28 February 2021

Took You Long Enough


He could have made this statement 2 weeks ago.

Amazon has been evil and brutal for months over the unionization effort, and Biden's response now is late and inadequate.

Your Eyes Will Bleed, and So Will Your Ears


Wait for it, it takes about 30 seconds

Well, Robert Goulet must be spinning in his grave, because he has lost his crown for the, "Worst Rendition of an 'To Anacreon in Heaven' inspired song ever."

By the teeth of the flying spaghetti monster, this is bad.

It makes Rosanne Barr's version sound positively operatic.

On the other hand, it is a PERFECT metaphor for the incredible clusterf%$# that CPAC was this year.

Ha Ha!

Right wing hate site Gab just got hacked, big time.

DDOSecrets, who previously had leaked racist and Islamophobic police training materials got almost everything, public posts, private posts, user info, passwords, etc.

These guys really do have spectacularly poor IT skills don't they?

It's the revenge of Bobby Droptables all over again

On the bright side, it save lots of aviation fuel.

Black helicopters are notorious fuel guzzlers: 

When Twitter banned Donald Trump and a slew of other far-right users in January, many of them became digital refugees, migrating to sites like Parler and Gab to find a home that wouldn't moderate their hate speech and disinformation. Days later, Parler was hacked, and then it was dropped by Amazon web hosting, knocking the site offline. Now Gab, which inherited some of Parler's displaced users, has been badly hacked too. An enormous trove of its contents has been stolen—including what appears to be passwords and private communications.

On Sunday night the WikiLeaks-style group Distributed Denial of Secrets is revealing what it calls GabLeaks, a collection of more than 70 gigabytes of Gab data representing more than 40 million posts. DDoSecrets says a hacktivist who self-identifies as "JaXpArO and My Little Anonymous Revival Project" siphoned that data out of Gab's backend databases in an effort to expose the platform's largely right-wing users. Those Gab patrons, whose numbers have swelled after Parler went offline, include large numbers of Qanon conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and promoters of former president Donald Trump's election-stealing conspiracies that resulted in the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.

DDoSecrets cofounder Emma Best says that the hacked data includes not only all of Gab's public posts and profiles—with the exception of any photos or videos uploaded to the site—but also private group and private individual account posts and messages, as well as user passwords and group passwords. "It contains pretty much everything on Gab, including user data and private posts, everything someone needs to run a nearly complete analysis on Gab users and content," Best wrote in a text message interview with WIRED. "It's another gold mine of research for people looking at militias, neo-Nazis, the far right, QAnon, and everything surrounding January 6."

DDoSecrets says it's not publicly releasing the data due to its sensitivity and the vast amounts of private information it contains. Instead the group says it will selectively share it with journalists, social scientists, and researchers. WIRED viewed a sample of the data, and it does appear to contain Gab users' individual and group profiles—their descriptions and privacy settings—public and private posts, and passwords. Gab CEO Andrew Torba acknowledged the breach in a brief statement Sunday.

………

According to DDoSecrets' Best, the hacker says that they pulled out Gab's data via a SQL injection vulnerability in the site—a common web bug in which a text field on a site doesn't differentiate between a user's input and commands in the site's code, allowing a hacker to reach in and meddle with its backend SQL database. Despite the hacker's reference to an "Anonymous Revival Project," they're not associated with the loose hacker collective Anonymous, they told Best, but do "want to represent the nameless struggling masses against capitalists and fascists."

It's reassuring that all the Nazis so far seem to be Colonel Klink, but we cannot rely on that forever.

27 February 2021

There Is a Religious Parallel Here, but I Cannot Put My Finger on It………


Actuall, I can put my finger on it, I made a similar observation some years back when a group of Christofascists decided to lay hands on the Wall Street Bull in an attempt to drive the "Devil" out of the financial markets.

Spoiler: It did not work.

I am not one to call for divine intervention, I feel that the problems of this world are created humans, and must be solved by them, but maybe they should have a word with Korach, face to face.

Break out your shovels, conservatives, and note that you will probably have to be digging up, not digging down.

 

Drip, Drip, Drip


A lesson for the press
One of the things about serial harassers and abusers is that it almost never happens just once. Once someone comes out to the press, people start coming out of the woodwork.*  

This means, you guessed it, we now have a second aide who has accused Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.

The reason that this happens is because typically harassment victims feel isolated, and are terrified of going out on a limb and being there alone.

Once someone else makes an allegation, they realize that they are NOT alone, and come forward as well, and so now we have Charlotte Bennett, former:

A second former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is accusing him of sexual harassment, saying that he asked her questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.

The aide, Charlotte Bennett, who was an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until she left in November, told The New York Times that the governor had harassed her late last spring, during the height of the state’s fight against the coronavirus.

Ms. Bennett, 25, said the most unsettling episode occurred on June 5, when she was alone with Mr. Cuomo in his State Capitol office. In a series of interviews this week, she said the governor had asked her numerous questions about her personal life, including whether she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships, and had said that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s — comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship.

………

Ms. Bennett said that during the June encounter, the governor, 63, also complained to her about being lonely during the pandemic, mentioning that he “can’t even hug anyone,” before turning the focus to Ms. Bennett. She said that Mr. Cuomo asked her, “Who did I last hug?”

Ms. Bennett said she had tried to dodge the question by responding that she missed hugging her parents. “And he was, like, ‘No, I mean like really hugged somebody?’” she said.

Mr. Cuomo never tried to touch her, Ms. Bennett said, but the message of the entire episode was unmistakable to her.

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Ms. Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

………

Ms. Bennett said she had disclosed the interaction with Mr. Cuomo to his chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, less than a week later and was transferred to another job, as a health policy adviser, with an office on the opposite side of the Capitol, soon after that. Ms. Bennett said she had also given a lengthy statement to a special counsel to the governor, Judith Mogul, toward the end of June.

Ms. Bennett said she ultimately decided not to insist on an investigation because she was happy in her new job and “wanted to move on.” No action was taken against the governor.

It never happens just once.

I'm expecting to see a few more.

The only question is whether people still fear Cuomo the way that they used to.  

If not, he is toast.

*This statement is offered only in the context of the current story regarding Andrew Cuomo, and not on the allegations involving Woody Allen, which I have not, and probabably never will, have a public opinion on.

Bad Stage Design, CPAC Edition (I Did Nazi See This Coming)

Have you seen the stage desin for this year's Conservative Political Action Conference>

It's rather evocative, in an Adolph and Eva kind of way:


That shape looks familiar ……… Oh, right, it's the Odal Rune, with wings, (Serifs) which was specifically created for:


Yes, it was worn on the lapels of some SS units in the 2nd World War, and is different from the historical Odal rune (α›Ÿ), which has no wings.


Here it is as the flag of the Flag of the Volksdeutsche 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen, according to Wikipedia.


In recent years, actual NeoNazis have replaced the swastika with the winged Odal Rune in an attempt to mainstream their symboliam.

Also, I have some footage of the stage show at CPAC, and it's a trip too:


My bad, that's from the original 1968 version of the Mel Brooks film The Producers.

Still, this is whole affair is a complete mind f%$#.
 
On the bright side, it appears that at least the fascists are no longer denying who they are.

26 February 2021

Politics Tweet of the Day


It really is remarkable just how dedicated the socalled "moderates" in the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) are to opposing policies that would get them massive support.

Least Surprising CIA Intelligence Dump Ever

In which it is revealed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the assassination of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Seriously, this had to be the worst kept secret in the Middle East: 

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia approved the assassination of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to an intelligence report that the Biden administration released on Friday that offered the world a reminder of the brutal killing.

An elite team of operatives helped carry out the killing, the report said. The team reported directly to Prince Mohammed, who cultivated a climate of fear that made it unlikely for aides to act without his consent, according to the report. It omitted the brutal details of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, including the dismemberment of his body with a bone saw after Saudi officials lured him to their consulate in Istanbul.

But the Biden administration took no direct action against Prince Mohammed, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, instead announcing travel and financial sanctions on other Saudis involved in the killing and on members of the elite unit of the Royal Guard who protect the crown prince. The administration concluded it could not risk a full rupture of its relationship with the kingdom, relied on by the United States to help contain Iran, to counter terrorist groups and to broker peaceful relations with Israel. Cutting off Saudi Arabia could also push its leaders toward China.

It does not matter how much oil that they have, the House of Saud is a complete sh%$ show, and their moving closer to China, and further from the US would be a bane to the Chinese, and a boon to the USA.

Much of the evidence the C.I.A. used to conclude that Prince Mohammed was culpable in Mr. Khashoggi’s killing remains classified. But the report’s disclosure was the first time that the American intelligence community had made its conclusions public, and the declassified document was a powerful rebuke of the crown prince, a close ally of the Trump administration, whose continued support of him prompted international outrage.

The release of the report signaled that President Biden, unlike his predecessor, would not set aside the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and that his administration intended to try to isolate the crown prince.

“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” said the report, issued by Mr. Biden’s director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines.

The decision to rebuke the Saudis without punishing Prince Mohammed directly was the result of a weekslong debate among aides to Mr. Biden, who during the 2020 campaign called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state with “no redeeming social value.”
Biden's characterization is not really accurate, in that Saudi Arabia is not a nation-state in the modern sense, people are not citizens but instead subjects.  It is the absolute possession of the House of Saud.

It may not appear so outwardly, but the position of the House of Saud atop the power structure of Riyadh is more precarious than it appears, and it is further jeopardized by Mohammed bin Salman's headstrong incompetence.

The US disentangling itself to the maximum degree possible before it all comes crashing down is a good thing.

Let them be Beijing's problem.

Of Course He Did

Today in Republican Family Values™ we discover that freshman Republican Madison Cawthorn spent his college years harassing women on campus.

Also I would note that you have to be pretty f%$#ing "Harassy" to get large numbers of women from a Christian college known for its reactionary politics (Patrick Henry College) to publicly complain your behavior means that it had to be pretty bad.

When you add to the fact that you were doing so FROM A WHEEL CHAIR, which both makes harassment both physically and culturally more difficult. (Lots of people believed that the disabled can't do things like harass other people, because they do not see the disabled as real people)

Also, he managed to do this in 1 semester, since he flunked out of his first semester.

Still, it appears that Mr. Cawthorn wins the gold on this, which is ironic, since he was also caught lying about training for the Paralympics:

Madison Cawthorn arrived at Patrick Henry College’s small Christian campus in northern Virginia in fall 2016 blazing with charm, bravado, and a flashing white smile. His former classmates said the future member of Congress would whip his white Dodge Challenger into the parking lot and regale his classmates with the story of how he survived a harrowing car crash as a teen, which left him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair for life. After his intensive recovery, he was older than most students — 21 — and didn’t fit the mold of the Christian and largely sheltered first-year students who chose the conservative school in Purcellville because of its commitment to God and rigorous academics. And, former Patrick Henry students said, it didn’t take long for women on campus to start warning one another: You don’t want to be alone with him, especially in his car.

BuzzFeed News spoke with more than three dozen people, including more than two dozen former students, their friends, and their relatives, who described or corroborated instances of sexual harassment and misconduct on campus, in Cawthorn’s car, and at his house near campus. Four women told BuzzFeed News that Cawthorn, now a rising Republican star, was aggressive, misogynistic, or predatory toward them. Their allegations include calling them derogatory names in public in front of their peers, including calling one woman “slutty,” asking them inappropriate questions about their sex lives, grabbing their thighs, forcing them to sit in his lap, and kissing and touching them without their consent. One of these women now works as an intern for another Republican member of Congress and passes Cawthorn in the corridors of the Capitol. According to more than a dozen people — including three women who had firsthand experience and seven people who heard about these incidents from them at the time — Cawthorn often used his car as a way to entrap and harass his women classmates, taking them on what he could call “fun drives'' off campus. Two said he would drive recklessly and ask them about their virginity and sexual experiences while they were locked in the moving vehicle.

“I realized he was taking me out to the middle of nowhere, Virginia,” said Caitlin Coulter, a former classmate who went for a drive with him during her senior year. “We were on these small, like, one- [or] two-lane back roads, and I just felt so uncomfortable and nervous and not even something I think at the time I could put a finger on, but just, like, danger warning.”

BuzzFeed News sent Cawthorn a detailed list of allegations in this story. His communications director, Micah Bock, did not respond to the specific allegations but instead referred BuzzFeed News to remarks the young Republican had made during a campaign debate in September: “I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life,” Cawthorn said.

………

Long before Cawthorn’s persona as a poster child for the new right gained national traction, people who went to school with him at Patrick Henry College said they were stunned as they watched him ascend in the North Carolina race. They told BuzzFeed News they remember him as one of the only Trump supporters on their small conservative campus, where he developed a reputation for mistreating women at the school, according to more than two dozen former students. 

………

Then, in October, more than 160 members of the Patrick Henry community signed an open letter detailing “gross misconduct towards our female peers, public misrepresentation of his past, disorderly conduct that was against the school’s student honor code, and self-admitted academic failings,” including that Cawthorn “established a reputation of predatory behavior.” After the letter was published, Cawthorn told ABC 13 that it was based on rumors, and his campaign wrote in a Facebook post that he had the endorsement of a “significant number of PHC alumni and former students who knew him well.” The post was signed by just six people. Two worked for the campaign and a third was one of their relatives.

………

But former classmates also remember Cawthorn as magnetic and ambitious, delivering almost-too-firm handshakes, buddying up with nearly everyone he met, and flirting with and befriending many women classmates. A former high school football player and avid athlete — his Instagram feed is peppered with videos in which he claimed he was training for the 2020 Paralympic Games, which wasn’t true — Cawthorn exuded a jock persona at school, classmates said. He soon formed a small posse of guys, which seven former students told BuzzFeed News was known around campus as the “the douche crew.” 

And he managed this in the single semester that he was there.

He was a very busy boy.

If You Have Neither on Your Side, Pound the Table

With prospects for both a minimum wage hike and Neera Tanden's becoming head of the Office and Management and Budget (OMB) dimming, the Biden administration has decided to ignore the minimum wage and go all in on the (rather unqualified and genuinely horrible person) Neera Tanden and ignore the plight of roughly 48 million people working for less than the proposed $15 per hour.

In their desperation, an old lawyer's adage applies, "If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table."

In this case, pounding the table means, ignoring the reasons for the opposition, as venal and corrupt as they and playing the "Race Card," which in this case means getting Americans of South Asian extraction riled up about this simply because Tanden is of South Asian extraction:

President Joe Biden’s aides are urging Asian American groups to mount a last-minute campaign to try to rescue his budget chief nominee, Neera Tanden, as her prospects for Senate confirmation dwindle.

Those groups are calling and sending letters to Senate offices and advocating for Tanden on social media to try to combat what they are calling “structural racism” and “institutional racism.”

Their efforts have been actively encouraged by the White House and presidential transition staff, which remains in place to help with Senate confirmations, along with the Democratic National Committee, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

The opposition to her comes from two real, though stupid and corrupt, sources, Republican butt-hurt over her mean Tweets (as if there is any other kind of Tweet), and Joe Manchin's decades long project to use his power as an elected official to benefit his daughter. (Manchin is lying about his being disturbed by the Tweets)

This is not an issue of Race.  If it were, Deb Haaland would have never gotten the nod, as indigenous Americans have always been further down in the racial hierarchy than pretty much everyone but Blacks and Hispanics.

Invoking racism is stupid and counter productive because it will not work and because it "wears out the batteries" on the tactic.

Keep your powder dry, because Tanden is all wet.

25 February 2021

Things that Remind Me of Mom

My mom died over 44 years ago, when I was 14.

One of the things that I recall was her deep affection for turtles.

At one point, we had 17 turtles as pets in the house, roughly divided between Red Eared Terrapins and Eastern Box Turtles, (Separate habitats) with a few others thrown in. (Also iguanas and cats, but that's another story)

Well, this story has me wondering how she would have reacted to this picture.


What Should Be Done Now, and Won't Be Done

Now that the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that a minimum wage increase cannot be passed through the reconciliation process, the course of action is clear, or at least it should be.

The President of the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris, can overrule the unelected Senate official, and it would require a vote of 60 Senators to overrule her decision.

Unfortunately, given that Biden has already said that he thought that a minimum wage increase was dead, and Biden's chief of staff has said that Harris would not rule against her, it appears that they are playing to lose.

Not a surprise.  Learned helplessness, is an innate trait of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment), and Joe Biden has enormous affection for an institution frequently called, "A Petri Dish for Psychopaths."

If they were not cowards or delusional, here is what would happen:

On Thursday, a key Senate official advised Democratic lawmakers that the chamber’s rules do not allow them to include a minimum wage increase in President Joe Biden’s first COVID-19 relief legislation. The ruling from the parliamentarian means that Vice President Kamala Harris could decide the fate of one of the Democratic Party’s most significant campaign promises — but it remains unclear what she will end up doing.

As the presiding officer of the Senate, Harris — who has long touted her support for a $15 minimum wage — can now use the power her predecessors have used to ignore the advisory opinion and fulfill Biden’s campaign promise to boost the wage. A confidential memo obtained by The Daily Poster now circulating on Capitol Hill spells out exactly how that could be accomplished.

However, White House chief of staff Ron Klain this week declared that Harris will refuse to use that power — a decision that would effectively put the Biden-Harris administration in the position of potentially killing the prospect of minimum wage legislation for the foreseeable future. Immediately after the parliamentarian’s ruling, the White House issued a statement reiterating Klain’s comment, declaring that “Biden respects the parliamentarian’s decision.”

Some congressional Democrats have already been arguing that the Biden administration’s refusal to overrule the parliamentarian would be immoral and a political disaster for their party.

………

As such, Democrats are working to pass the COVID bill using the convoluted budget reconciliation process. The process will allow for a simple majority vote on the final legislation, but it also allows Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough to recommend tossing certain provisions if she decides they violate the so-called Byrd Rule, which is designed to prohibit extraneous matters outside of federal spending issues to be added to budget legislation.

BTW, while not common, overruling the parliamentarian is by means rare, particularly given that the Senate can pass one reconciliation bill in a year:

Vice presidents have ignored the parliamentarian in the past. According to Slate, "Vice President Hubert Humphrey routinely ignored his parliamentarian’s advice.”

Roll Call reported last month: “Precedents for ignoring parliamentary advice include 1967, 1969, and 1975 efforts to change the Senate's threshold to end debate from a two-thirds vote to three-fifths.”

 ………

In a new memo circulating to lawmakers and obtained by The Daily Poster, Harris’s power as the presiding Chair of the Senate is spelled out, citing a precedent set during the Clinton administration.

“It would take 60 votes to overturn the ruling of the Chair on a Byrd Rule point of order, regardless of what the Parliamentarian advises,” states the memo. “Based on a search of the Congressional Record, it appears that only twice has the chair’s ruling on a Byrd Rule point of order been appealed. Both instances occurred on August 6, 1993, during consideration of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. Neither appeal garnered the 60 affirmative votes necessary to overturn the Chair’s ruling.”

Like I said, the Dems are playing to lose, and come 2022, lose they will.

Today in Evil, Facebook Edition

This time, it's not Zuck, it's Sheryl Sandburg, who shut down people that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not like

What's more, it is clear from the internal communications, they did so despite Facebook's publicly stated affection for freedom of speech, because it was more profitable to side with despots.

No big surprise. 

Also not a surprise, Facebook structured it to make it look like a network error, so as few people as possible would know.

It's Thursday, So We Have New Initial Claims Numbers

And they are better, though still not good, with initial claims falling from 841,000 claims to 730,000 claims.  Additionally, durable goods orders rose by more than 3% in January.

Generally hopeful news.

24 February 2021

Manchin to Support Haaland for Secretary of the Interior

After publicly playing Hamlet for a few days, Joe Manchin (DINO-WV) has announced that he will support the nomination of Deb Halland as Secretary of the Interior.

Why her, she participated in protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, which as a VERY pro fossil fuel Senator from a coal state he should find even more unsettling than a few mean Tweets about Republicans made by Neera Tanden.


Pretty mild, actually
It turns out that Manchin is probably lying about his reason to oppose Tanden.

It seems that his daughter, Heather Bresch, academic fabulist and CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, was criticized by Tanden for raising her own pay while gouging consumers for the Epipen® anaphylaxis treatment

This would not be the first time that Manchin has used his official position to benefit his daughter. His finger prints are all over an effort to get Bresch an MBA degree that she did not earn

So Joe Manchin's actions here are even more stupid, sordid, and corrupt than I had previously imagined.

Still no sympathy for Ms. Tanden though.  She's a hack and a psychopath, and she shut down a publication in response to unionization, so am firmly of the belief that she should not be kitchen staff supervisor* at the White House, much less director of the OMB.

*It's a reference to the comic book Cerebus the Aardvark.

Today in Stupid

It appears that one of the Capitol rioters was texting his ex-wife while breaking into, and said ex promptly notified the federal constabulary of the state of affairs.

As the saying goes, "バカに぀ける薬はγͺい".*
One consistent theme so far in the enormous federal investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on Congress is the overwhelming willingness of friends, family and lovers of Capitol rioters, past and present, to rat them out to authorities.

Wednesday brought yet another exemplary entry to the court record.

According to an FBI agent’s affidavit in a newly unsealed case, Richard Michetti texted someone with whom he had a prior romantic relationship several times during the attack. She contacted authorities the following day.

Michetti allegedly sent a video showing himself on Capitol grounds during the riot. Another video showed him inside the Capitol Building itself, according to the affidavit. He also allegedly texted a string of updates about what he was up to as he rampaged with the mob.
In addition to everything else, I get the sense that these folks were NOT exactly the the sharpest knives in the drawer.

*Pronounced in Japanese, "baka ni tsukeru kusuri wanai", which means, "There is no medicine for stupidity." Apologies for any inaccuracies in the text, I do not know Japanese.

They Should down the Whole Corrupt Sh%$-Show

Following the payment of massive fines for unethical, and quite possible illegal benavior, the global managing partner (basically CEO) of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company has been given his walking papers

The proximate cause is the $600 million settlement that the consulting firm had to pay out over their truly heinous recommendations to the manufacturers of opioids, where (among other things) they suggested that pharmacies be paid a bounty for drug overdoses to boost sales.* (They called it, "Rebates," but it was a bounty for overdoses.)

McKinsey & Co. is, and has been for as long as I have been aware of it, an evil and corrupt organization.

The sole reason for its existence is to assist overpaid executives engaging in short sighted and destructive policies for the person enrichment of said overpaid executives. (And McKinsey & Co. partners, but that goes without saying)

When one considers the long litany of evil that they have been associated with, mass layoffs, excessive CEO pay, facilitating corruption in South Africa, assisting in setting up Trumps immigration gulags, looting Puerto Rico, facilitating the House of Saud's frequently murderous campaigns against its critics, etc.

McKinsey is a cancer on society, and if it goes the way of Arthur Andersen tomorrow, it will not be a moment too soon:

Partners at McKinsey & Company voted out the consulting firm’s top executive, Kevin Sneader, this week as it continues to face blowback over its role in fueling the opioid crisis.

The decision to deny Mr. Sneader a second three-year term as global managing partner came in a vote by more than 600 senior partners, according to a company executive. Earlier this month, McKinsey had agreed to pay 49 states a historic settlement of almost $600 million because of sales advice the company had given to drugmakers.

It is highly unusual for a sitting managing partner at McKinsey to be refused a follow-on term. The last time a firm leader was denied a second term was in 1976, according to the company’s internal history book.

Mr. Sneader, 54, did not even make it to the final round of balloting, according to the company executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The final candidates for Mr. Sneader’s replacement are Bob Sternfels, based in San Francisco, and Sven Smit, based in Amsterdam. The shake-up at the prestigious consulting firm was first reported by The Financial Times.

It should be noted that McKinsey is as much a symptom as it is a cause of the ills that it is associated with, and the solution in the long run is greater accountability for businesses, managers, and consultants for the actions that they take.

As I noted over 2 years ago, studies have shown that when managers and holders of capital are allowed to skirt responsibility, whether through bankruptcies, corporate indemnity, or (as is the case of my earlier post) through changes in marital property laws, bad things happen. 

If the mantra of, "Personal responsibility," and, "Real consequences," held so dear by Republicans needs to be applied anywhere, it is to the boardroom.

*As Anna Russel would say, "I'm not making this up, you know,

23 February 2021

Not Enough Bullets

In the latest edition of awful Wipipo, we discover that rich white people in te LA area have set up a scheme to secure Covid-19 vaccines intended for poorer and more darkly complected folks, because ……… Karen, I guess.

Color me disgusted:

A California program intended to improve COVID-19 vaccine availability to people in hard-hit communities of color is being misused by outsiders who are grabbing appointments reserved for residents of underserved Black and Latino areas.

The program to address inequities in vaccine distribution relies on special access codes that enable people to make appointments on the My Turn vaccine scheduling website. The codes are provided to community organizations to distribute to people in largely Black and Latino communities.

But those codes have also been circulating, in group texts and messages, among the wealthier, work-from-home set in Los Angeles, The Times has learned. Many of those people are not yet eligible for the vaccine under state rules.

Some people able to make appointments have been driving to Cal State Los Angeles to get the shots.

I know that I have been over-using the phrase lately, but I want to see these folks frog marched out in hand cuffs.

Tweet of the Day


This is as succinct a description of Neoliberalism as I've seen in a long time.

Yeah, This Will Driver the Black Farmer Vote

Former Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, who is (or should be) notorious for fighting against equity for black farmers and lying about it, is Secretary of Agriculture once again. (He's also in the tank for large agribusiness, but that's another story)

Right now, he's my choice for worst member of the Biden administration, but the term is still young:

After a 92-7 vote, the former governor of Iowa will reprise his role heading up USDA.

Three weeks after a cakewalk of a confirmation hearing, Tom Vilsack was confirmed as President Biden’s Agriculture Secretary on Tuesday in a 92-7 vote, garnering support from both parties. Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders and Republicans Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul were among those voting against his confirmation. Senators had scheduled twenty minutes to debate the nomination but no one spoke out against Secretary Vilsack on the floor. Democrats voted unanimously in favor of the former governor of Iowa.

Vilsack’s nomination drew sharp criticism from civil rights advocates and various food safety and progressive farm groups, though he ultimately won support from major players including the Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union.

………

Under Vilsack, USDA distorted data and concealed decades of discrimination against Black farmers.

Back in 2019, we published a two-year investigation exploring how USDA spun a fictional narrative about a renaissance in Black farming during the Obama years. Under Vilsack’s watch, USDA employees foreclosed on Black farmers with outstanding discrimination complaints, sent a lower share of loan dollars to Black farmers than it had under President Bush, and underrepresented the frequency of new discrimination complaints.

When Vilsack’s nomination was announced in December, Lawrence Lucas, president emeritus of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, told us his phone had been ringing off the hook with people telling him they did not support Biden’s nomination. “This brings tears to my eyes,” he said.

During his confirmation hearing, members of the Senate did not ask Vilsack about his record on civil rights, but he did say he anticipated forming an equity commission.

Yes, a f%$#ing commission.  That will solve the problem of bigotry and racism, a problem that Vilsac studiously avoided doing anything about, go away. 

It's not, and if the past is prelude, Vilsack will continue to sacrifice family farms, regardless of color, on the altar of Big Ag.

Oh, Canada

After discovering that teachers were leaving classroom windows open to improve ventalation and reduce the spread of Covid 19, Officials in Abbotsford, B.C. Canada brought in contractors to screw the windows shut

So, just in case you are wondering, asshole incompetent school administrators appear to be a universal thing:

Officials at a school in Abbotsford, B.C., had windows in the building either screwed shut or blocked from opening wider than a few inches after teachers began using them to compensate for poor ventilation, says the Abbotsford Teachers' Union.

Teachers at Godson Elementary School had assumed a proper ventilation system was installed throughout the entire school — to maintain airflow and reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission — but they were shocked to learn in December that this wasn't the case in an older wing of the building.

After teachers began opening windows wide to increase airflow in the affected classrooms — despite cold temperatures outside — the school district responded by sending contractors to fix the issue.

The district says those contractors found safety issues with the windows and partially sealed them.

………

On Feb. 14, health officials ordered one division at Godson elementary to self-isolate because of COVID exposure.

………

The wing with no ventilation system houses some 200 students and staff in 18 rooms.

"To start by screwing the windows closed — was instantly a large stress," said Brooks.

"It was a great surprise to the staff. The day that it happened the teachers were very upset."

She said the district supplied small air purifiers to process classroom air, but described it as "Band Aid" solution.

I think that this could be settled with a friendly game of hockey between the parents and the teachers, with the school administrators being the puck.

Support Your Local Police

It turns out that the Capitol Insurrection rioter who attempted to gouge out the eyes of a Capitol Police officer was a cop.

This is a definition of, "Professional Courtesy," I was previously unaware of:

A retired NYPD officer turned himself in to the FBI this Monday for his role in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, after being accused of using a pipe to attack Capitol police officers.

According to NBC New York, Thomas Webster was once assigned to work perimeter security at City Hall and at Gracie Mansion, which is the mayor's official residence.

………

Webster was also known as the "eye gouger" on social media, due to images showing him allegedly jabbing his thumb into the face of a Capitol police officer.

Please, no bail for this guy.

It Was Racism that Killed the Beast

Dan Froomkin has a must-read analysis on the testimony of former Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund before Congress.

In it he conclusively shows that Sund is deliberately deceptive to Congress, focusing on a poorly distributed FBI memo (the January 5 memo) from the day before the assault on the Capitol, while misleading about a far more detailed and extensive report from his own Capitol police from two days earlier, which was given to him, where his own intelligence unit warned about the very real possibility of a actions by the protesters where, "Congress itself is the target."

I agree with Froomkin's assessment:  Lund's lackadaisical response stems not from bad intelligence, but from racism:

Steven Sund, the disgraced former chief of the Capitol Police Department, was explicitly warned in a Jan. 3 memo from his own intelligence unit that thousands of desperate, violence-prone Trump supporters were planning to target Congress on Jan. 6, encouraged by the president himself.

The memo didn’t really say much more than was already obvious to anyone paying attention, but it was authoritative, detailed, and, of course, prescient.

Sund waved it off. He didn’t bother to share it with the rank and file. He didn’t equip his frontline officers with tear gas, or other non-lethal crowd-control weapons, or riot gear. Instead, he sent them out in street uniforms to man barricades made of bike racks, and get the shit beaten out of them, in one case fatally. He let the Capitol fall to a mob.

But in his first public comments on Tuesday, Sund had the breath-taking gall to blame the breach of the Capitol not on his own poor decision-making, but on a “clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies.”

………

The Feb. 5 FBI report was shared with the Capitol Police intelligence unit. Sund said he didn’t get it, however, and under leading questioning from Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon blamed the unit’s director, John Donahue, for that.

………

Sund’s story is that because of flawed intelligence, he judged the danger posed by the Jan. 6 protests as similar in scale to that posed by previous pro-Trump rallies nearby, none of which amounted to much.

But take a few moments to read this one, “redacted” excerpt from the internal Jan. 3 memo that the Post made public. Sund’s excuses fall apart. (The public really needs to see the full, unredacted memo, by the way.)
Due to the tense political environment following the 2020 election, the threat of disruptive actions or violence cannot be ruled out. Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election. This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th. As outlined above, there has been a worrisome call for protesters to come to these events armed and there is the possibility that protesters may be inclined to become violent. Further, unlike the events on November 14, 2020, and December 12, 2020, there are several more protests scheduled on January 6, 2021, and the majority of them will be on Capitol grounds. The two protests expected to be the largest of the day – the Women for American First protest on the Ellipse and the Stop the Steal protest in Areas 8 and 9 — may draw thousands of participants and both have been promoted by President Trump himself. The Stop the Steal protest in particular does not have a permit, but several high profile speakers, including Members of Congress are expected to speak at the event. This combined with Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence, may lead to significantly dangerous situations for law enforcement and the general public alike.
Imagine reading that memo and failing to put your own officers on red alert; failing to prepare them to repel what seemed like an inevitable onslaught.

The closest any senator came to asking about that was Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. “It’s not that we had inadequate resources, but a failure to deploy the people that we were supposed to,” he told Sund. He noted that Sund had in a previous letter acknowledged knowing that white supremacist groups and other extremist groups were expected on Jan. 6 and might become violent.

………

As Rep. Cori Bush – a veteran of many Black Lives Matter protests – put it on MSNBC the very evening of the insurrection: “Had it been people who look like me, had it been the same amount of people, but had they been Black and brown, we wouldn’t have made it up those steps… we would have been shot, we would have been tear gassed.”

The reporting on this element of the story – why Sund and the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, also older white males, weren’t particularly alarmed by the MAGA horde – has been terrible. Nearly nonexistent.

The one exception has been an article by Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan for ProPublica, based on interviews with 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers. They reported:
The interviews… revealed officers’ concerns about disparities in the way the force prepared for Black Lives Matter demonstrations versus the pro-Trump protests on Jan. 6. Officers said the Capitol Police force usually plans intensively for protests, even if they are deemed unlikely to grow violent. Officers said they spent weeks working 12- or 16-hour days, poised to fight off a riot, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police — even though intelligence suggested there was not much danger from protesters.

“We had intel that nothing was going to happen — literally nothing,” said one former official with direct knowledge of planning for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. “The response was, ‘We don’t trust the intel.’”

By contrast, for much of the force, Jan. 6 began like any other day.

“We normally have pretty good information regarding where these people are and how far they are from the Capitol,” said Keith McFaden, a former Capitol Police officer and union leader who retired from the force following the riot. “We heard nothing that day.”
But nobody at the Senate hearing even mentioned the issue of race. Not once.

Nobody asked Sund to compare and contrast his preparedness for Jan. 6 with his preparedness for Black Lives Matter protests that weren’t even nearby. Nobody asked why Sund didn’t give front-line officers tear gas. Nobody asked Sund or the two sergeants-at-arms if the white privilege they shared with the mob had made it seem unthreatening to them, unlike the “other”.

This was willful blindness driven by (at best) privilege, and the Congressmen questioning should have (metaphorically) strung up Sund by his entrails over this.

He just lied to Congress, and he deliberately hung men under his command out to dry, but the story of the mainstream media is going to be about how this mook is a victim of circumstance.

22 February 2021

I Hope That This Is Illegal

Not that anyone will be prosecuted for it, because it is Alabama, but Amazon offering $2,000 "Resignation Bonuses" so that it can replace potentially pro-union workers with scabs ahead of the vote is skeevy as hell.

Bribes in union elections are expressly forbidden under the NLRA, and I am pretty sure that this is a bribe not to vote, particularly since they are giving the impression that they will hiring folks back after the union election: (Yeah, sure)

As the historic union election at Amazon in Alabama heats up, Amazon is pulling all the tricks to stop the union.

In violation of Amazon’s social distancing policy, Amazon has forced workers to attend anti-union meetings and sent workers constant text messages daily, hinting that a union could possibly lead to the warehouse closing. Amazon has even gotten the local authorities to shorten the time of stoplights outside of the plant so that union organizers can’t hand out pro-union literature to workers passing in their cars.

Now, Amazon is doing something that labor observers have never seen before in a union election; they are offering $2,000 “resignation bonuses” to quit.

Last night, workers throughout the plant received emails offering them bonuses if they simply quit their jobs. The emails offer workers, who worked for 2 peak seasons, at least $2,000 to quit. If workers have been there at least 3 peak seasons, they are offering them $3,000.

Some Amazon workers, who dislike their job at the warehouse, may find the bonuses a tempting bridge to quit their job and seek something better. Workers are even being told that if they quit now that they could regain their jobs later after the union election.

However, if workers quit now, they won’t be eligible to vote in the ongoing union election. In the meantime, many labor observers expect that Amazon will seek to hire replacements that will vote solidly anti-union.

“That should be illegal, how can you pay someone to resign,” says 48-year-old Black Amazon worker Jennifer Bates “They are going all the way, they are pulling out all the stops”.

Under federal labor law, the bonuses could be considered a bribe and could lead to the union election being thrown out. Employers are strictly forbidden from improving the material conditions of workers in the lead up to elections and the “resignation bonuses” could be grounds for the union to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to order a new union election if RWDSU loses this round.

Keeping this in litigation for the next decade is a part of Amazon's strategy.

You won't stop this without frog marching senior executives out of corporate offices in handcuffs.

Do Not Imagine that Mark Zuckerberg is Your Friend

Whether he agrees with Alex Jones and the rest of his wacko, my parents are first cousins, X-Files wannabe, black helicopter, tinfoil hat wearing, stupid, dim-witted, thinks pro wrestling is real, lunatics*, or just thinks that they are good for his bottom line, Mark Zuckerberg's choice to put right wing nut Joel Kaplan in charge of Facebook policy is an indication that Zuckerberg is dangerous and needs to be brought to heel.

Case in point, when Facebook finally came up with a policy to deal with fabulists fomenting violence, Mark Zuckerberg killed it to make sure that Alex Jones still had a platform.

I am not sure how to handle such issues on social media, but making sure that sociopaths like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandburg are not making what are literally life or death decisions about terrorist groups on the basis of web site engagement seems to me to be a good start:

In April 2019, Facebook was preparing to ban one of the internet’s most notorious spreaders of misinformation and hate, Infowars founder Alex Jones. Then CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened.

Jones had gained infamy for claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was a “giant hoax,” and that the teenage survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting were “crisis actors.” But Facebook had found that he was also relentlessly spreading hate against various groups, including Muslims and trans people. That behavior qualified him for expulsion from the social network under the company's policies for "dangerous individuals and organizations," which required Facebook to also remove any content that expressed “praise or support” for them.

But Zuckerberg didn’t consider the Infowars founder to be a hate figure, according to a person familiar with the decision, so he overruled his own internal experts and opened a gaping loophole: Facebook would permanently ban Jones and his company — but would not touch posts of praise and support for them from other Facebook users. This meant that Jones’ legions of followers could continue to share his lies across the world’s largest social network.

"Mark personally didn’t like the punishment, so he changed the rules,” a former policy employee told BuzzFeed News, noting that the original rule had already been in use and represented the product of untold hours of work between multiple teams and experts.

………

Zuckerberg’s “more nuanced policy” set off a cascading effect, the two former employees said, which delayed the company’s efforts to remove right-wing militant organizations such as the Oath Keepers, which were involved the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. It is also a case study in Facebook’s willingness to change its rules to placate America’s right wing and avoid political backlash.

Internal documents obtained by BuzzFeed News and interviews with 14 current and former employees show how the company’s policy team — guided by Joel Kaplan, the vice president of global public policy, and Zuckerberg’s whims — has exerted outsize influence while obstructing content moderation decisions, stymieing product rollouts, and intervening on behalf of popular conservative figures who have violated Facebook’s rules.

In December, a former core data scientist wrote a memo titled, “Political Influences on Content Policy.” Seen by BuzzFeed News, the memo stated that Kaplan’s policy team “regularly protects powerful constituencies” and listed several examples, including: removing penalties for misinformation from right-wing pages, blunting attempts to improve content quality in News Feed, and briefly blocking a proposal to stop recommending political groups ahead of the US election.

………

An integrity researcher who worked on Facebook’s efforts to protect the democratic process and rein in radicalization said the company caused direct harm to users by rejecting product changes due to concerns of political backlash.

“Out of fears over potential public and policy stakeholder responses, we are knowingly exposing users to risks of integrity,” they wrote in an internal note seen by BuzzFeed News. They quit in August.

Those most affected by Jones’ rhetoric have taken notice, too. Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was the youngest victim of the Sandy Hook shooting, called the revelation that Zuckerberg weakened penalties facing the Infowars founder “disheartening, but not surprising.” He said the company had made a promise to do better in dealing with hate and hoaxes following a 2018 letter from HONR Network, his organization for survivors of mass casualty events. Yet Facebook continues to fail to remove harmful content.

“At some point,” Pozner told BuzzFeed News, “Zuckerberg has to be held responsible for his role in allowing his platform to be weaponized and for ensuring that the ludicrous and the dangerous are given equal importance as the factual.”

………

When Kaplan joined Facebook to lead its DC operation in 2011, he had the connections and pedigree the company needed to court the American right. A former clerk for conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, he served as a White House deputy chief of staff under President George W. Bush after participating in the Brooks Brothers riot during the 2000 Florida presidential election dispute. During a Senate confirmation hearing in 2003 for a post with the Office of Management and Budget, Kaplan was questioned about his role in the event, which sought to stop the tallying of votes during the Florida recount.

Though he initially maintained a low public profile at Facebook, Kaplan — COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Harvard classmate and former boyfriend — was valued by Zuckerberg for his understanding of GOP policymakers and conservative Americans, who the CEO believed were underrepresented by a liberal-leaning leadership team and employee base.

(Emphasis mine)

Kaplan is a man who literally pretended to be a Florida resident and then used the threat of violence to shut down vote counting in Miami/Dade County in the 2000 election, but because he went to Harvard (Zuckerberg's alma mater) and dated Sheryl Sandberg, so because he's "someone like them", and because they just ……… don't ……… care, this individual is  Facebook's VP of global public policy.

That this man has the ear of Mark Zuckerberg says a lot of things about the CEO of Facebook, none of it good.

The most important thing to note here is not that Kaplan is a bad person, but that Zuckerberg is a horrible person, and a horribly dangerous one as well.

*Sorry, I think that I just channeled the con Denis Leary.
Sorry, I think that I just channeled the non even a bit of a comedian Hillary Clinton.

Because They Cannot Resist Hippie Punching

Joe Biden is looking to appoint Rahm Emanuel ambassador to Japan.

I get it.  Rahm was once an important member of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment), but there is no reason to appoint him to anything.

He is so incredibly awful that he was forced out as mayor, and under his watch, the police literally operated a black torture site, he sold his city to any well dressed charlatan with a few buck of campaign donations.

The only reason for Rahm to be given a position like ambassador to Japan, where, let's be clear, he won't have anything substantive to do, career bureaucrats in the US and Japanese have been handling the important stuff for years, is to show progressives in the Democratic Party that they are neither respected nor valued:

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears poised to take on a high-profile ambassadorship for President Biden, a step likely to trigger contention with progressives who’ve balked at him taking a Cabinet role.

Emanuel is the front-runner to be Biden’s nominee as ambassador to Japan, sources familiar with the matter told The Hill.

He’s also being considered for the post in China, but sources said Japan is the more likely landing spot for former President Obama's chief of staff. Former State Department official Nicholas Burns is the likely front-runner to end up in Beijing.

The diplomatic role in Asia would mark a high-profile return to the federal government for Emanuel, who built a reputation as a brash but effective political tactician in the Democratic Party.

Emanuel led Democrats to the House majority in 2006, working closely with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to return the party to power for the first time since the Gingrich revolution in that cycle.

What he has is a gift for self-promotion.

He dropped millions on candidates who stood for nothing, and lost, while Howard Dean's 50 state strategy generated seats that Rahm wrote off completely.

Furthermore, "Brash but effective," is the WORST POSSIBLE combination for dealing with Japan.

Brash does not play well in Japan, though they do understand that the position is a political plum:

Japan has been seen as a top diplomatic post. Past ambassadors to Japan include the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, the legendary GOP senator Howard Baker and Caroline Kennedy.

See what I mean?

These are people who understood their role was not to make (or even implement) policy, but to show that the ambassadorship is prestigious, and hence the relationship is valued.

Even if we weren't dealing with a crass and venal incompetent who had spent his political life failing up, he is spectacularly unsuited to this position.

Pass the Popcorn

Without comment, the Supreme Court has rejected Donald Trump's bid to conceal his tax returns from the Manhattan prosecutor:

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected former president Donald Trump’s last-chance effort to keep his private financial records from the Manhattan district attorney, ending a long and drawn-out legal battle.

After a four-month delay, the court denied Trump’s motion in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents.

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has won every stage of the legal fight — including the first round at the Supreme Court — but has yet to receive the records he says are necessary for a grand jury investigation into whether the president’s companies violated state law.

Vance responded to the court decision with a three-word tweet: “The work continues.”

………

Vance’s inquiry is one of two known criminal investigations involving the former president. The other, led by the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, focuses on Trump’s controversial coversations with state officials amid his failed effort to overturn that state’s election result.

Trump has waged an extraordinary battle to keep private his tax records, which every other modern president has released as an expected part of seeking the presidency. The court’s action does not mean Trump’s tax records are to become public — Vance has said they will be protected by grand jury secrecy rules — but is likely to accelerate an investigation that might be Trump’s biggest legal threat.

………

Forensic accounting experts from FTI Consulting are expected to assist prosecutors in assessing whether the Trump Organization manipulated property values for tax breaks, or to obtain favorable loan rates, The Washington Post previously reported.

The investigation is fairly developed, but the tax returns are an integral part of the picture. The Supreme Court order — allowing Vance to execute the subpoena — could mean a lot of work is ahead for investigators as the records are voluminous, spanning eight years.

………

The current fight is a follow-up to a July decision by the high court that the president is not immune from a criminal investigation while he holds office.

………

Vance is seeking eight years of the former president’s tax returns and related documents as part of what was initially an investigation into alleged hush-money payments made ahead of the 2016 election to two women who said they had affairs with Trump years before — claims Trump denies. Investigators have indicated they want to determine whether efforts were made to conceal the payments on tax documents by labeling them as legal expenses.

I'm expecting the investigations to reveal that Trump is basically broke, despite the millions that he managed to extract from the government and government supplicants.

I will love to see him broken like a yearling horse, and I know that he's going to whine about conspiracies, but, "That’s what I thought you'd say, you dumb f%$#ing horse."*

*Credit where credit is due, I am quoting comedian John Mullaney.

IP Insanity in One Ironic Twist


When I was your age, this is how we did memes!


Payback, Bitches!
A concert being live streamed on Twitch had its music replaced with 8-bit folk music because it included music from Metallica.

The interesting thing about this is that it was Metallica playing Metallica, which, considering their actions during the whole Napster affair, is rather amusing:

Long time copyright watchers know that Metallica sullied its reputation with tons of fans when it was the first band to sue the file sharing upstart Napster back in 2000 (and also sued three universities for "not blocking Napster"). The band's drummer, Lars Ulrich, became an outspoken critic of file sharing and the internet, the early face of super wealthy musicians whining about the internet changing the way they did things, leading to the classic Money Good! Napster Bad! meme.

Over the years, Metallica has tried to do more to "embrace" the internet, but almost every time, fans jump up to remind them about what assholes they were towards the early internet experience.

And that brings us around to Friday evening, when Metallica was set to play a streamed "live" show to kick off BlizzCon (an event for video game company Blizzard). The event was streamed live on Twitch, which has had some copyright problems of late. It appears that as Metallica was playing, and the Twitch Gaming channel was streaming the concert, someone realized that there might be a copyright problem. As first called out by Rod Breslau, the channel inserted 8-bit folks music over Metallica's live performance to avoid a situation that, uh, Metallica might sue over.

This is sweet, sweet payback, and I expect this to get memed to death.

Quote of the Day

If You’re Protesting against Racism, You’re Going to Upset Some Racists
Sacha Baron Cohen

This is truer than taxes.

Also, Cohen is far more thoughtful than I gave him credit for.

Linkage

The story behind Townshend's Lifehouse

21 February 2021

Not a Surprise

It appears that Boeing 777 -200 and -300 airliners with the PW 4000 series engines have been grounded world wide.

Given that two of these aircraft have had an uncontained fan failure in the past there months, this seems to be a sensible precaution:

Boeing has recommended grounding more than 120 of its 777 jets worldwide following a catastrophic engine failure on a United Airlines plane in Denver.

The company said on Sunday night that airlines using the same type of engine that scattered debris across Denver before making an emergency landing should suspend operations until inspections could be carried out.

Flight 328 was flying from Denver International Airport to Honolulu with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board on Saturday when one engine failed shortly after take-off. Police in Broomfield, Colorado posted photos of pieces of debris from the plane near houses and other buildings. There were no reports of any injuries on the ground or among the passengers.

United Airlines said it was temporarily grounding all 24 of its Boeing 777s on active duty, and Japan’s aviation regulator swiftly followed suit, ordering Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) to cease flying 777s that use the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines while it considered whether to take additional measures. Japan said ANA operated 19 of that kind and JAL operated 13.

………

“We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident,” the FAA said in a statement from its administrator, Steve Dickson . “Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes.

………

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said on Sunday an initial examination of the Denver engine showed two fan blades had become fractured. The voice cockpit and flight data recorders have been taken to a lab in Washington for analysis, it said.

Japan’s transport ministry said early on Monday a JAL flight from Naha to Tokyo had to return to the airport on 4 December last year due to a malfunction in the left engine. That plane is the same age as the 26-year-old United Airlines plane involved in Saturday’s incident.

 My guess is some sort of fatigue or stress corrosion cracking.

Of Course They Are

In response to surprise Senate and Presidential campaign defeats, Georgia Republicans are trying to make voting as difficult as possible.

When your policies are bad, the response of the GOP is not to change those policies, or even to try to sell their policies better.  Their response is to pick and choose their voters, because they are a bunch of racist fascists:

Georgia Republicans have unveiled sweeping new legislation that would make it dramatically harder to vote in the state, following an election with record turnout and surging participation among Black voters.

The measure is one of the most brazen efforts to make it harder to vote in America in recent years. The bill would block officials from offering early voting on Sundays, a day traditionally used by Black churches to mobilize voters as part of a “souls to the polls” effort. It would place new limits on the use of mail-in ballot dropboxes, restrict who can handle an absentee ballot, and require voters to provide their driver’s license number or a copy of other identification with their application for a mail-in ballot. It would also require voters to provide the same driver’s license information on the mail-in ballot itself or the last four digits of their social security number if they do not have an acceptable ID.

The bill gives voters less time to request and return mail-in ballots, not only moving up the deadline to return an application but also limiting requests to start 78 days ahead of an election instead of the current 180. It requires election officials to reject ballots mistakenly cast in the wrong precinct and bans organizers from offering food or water to voters standing in line to cast a ballot.

“With exacting precision, the bill targets voters of color,” said Nse Ufot, chief of the New Georgia Project, one of the groups that mobilized voters of color in Georgia. “Georgia Republicans saw what happens when Black voters are empowered and show up at the polls, and now they’re launching a concerted effort to suppress the votes and voices of Black Georgians.”

Working to find common ground with these people is a fools errand.

They only care about power (theirs) and hatred (of those who do not look or pray like them).

20 February 2021

Rule 1 of Regulating Businesses: Businesses Will Lie to Avoid Regulation

Rule 2 is, "See Rule 1."

Case in point, when faced with the prospect of regulation enforcing a right to repair, John Deere lied when it said that future products would allow for more maintenance to be performed by the farmers themselves.

These products are out now, and they are not user-repairable, and intentionally designed not to be user repairable:

In September 2018, a trade group that represents John Deere and a series of other tractor and agricultural equipment manufacturers made a promise intended to stave off increasing pressure from their customers and to prevent lawmakers from passing what they said would be onerous repair regulations. They vowed that, starting January 1, 2021, Deere and other tractor manufacturers would make repair tools, software, and diagnostics available to the masses.

This "statement of principles," as it was called at the time, was nominally designed to address concerns from farmers that their tractors were becoming increasingly unrepairable due to pervasive software-based locks that artificially prevented them from fixing their equipment. As Motherboard repeatedly reported at the time, farmers were being forced to go to "authorized" John Deere dealerships and service centers to perform otherwise simple repairs that they could no longer do because they were locked out of their equipment and needed special software to unlock it. To get around this, some farmers had begun hacking their tractors with cracked software from Ukraine.

A host of states were considering "right to repair" legislation that would have compelled Deere and other manufacturers to abandon these artificial software locks, to make repair tools and guides available to the general public, and to, broadly speaking, allow farmers to fix the tractors they owned.

Deere, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (the lobbying group that represents Deere and several other large manufacturers), and the Equipment Dealers Association announced this "commitment" to farmers in order to prevent any of this legislation from passing; the thinking was that if manufacturers like Deere provided some of the things that right to repair legislation would have required, they could explain to lawmakers that these bills (which provided more consumer control) weren't actually necessary.

This was a big deal in the farm world. In California, The Far West Equipment Dealers Association (which represents authorized dealers in seven western states) signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with the California Farm Bureau that enshrined this statement of principles, printed out a giant poster of it, and then displayed it in a signing ceremony and photo-op. It was seen as a grand compromise, and farmers were the winners.

………

It is now three years later. The agreement is supposed to be in effect. No right to repair legislation has been passed. Deere, the dealers, and the manufacturers got what they wanted. And, yet, farmers are still struggling to get anything promised in the agreement.

………

Kerry Sheehan, iFixit's head of US policy, points out that currently, the "only John Deere repair tools we can find" are these children’s toys.

David Ward, a spokesperson for the AEM, the manufacturers' lobbying and trade group that often represents John Deere, told Motherboard that "Equipment manufacturers support farmers right to repair their equipment. Comprehensive repair and diagnostic information is now available for the vast majority of the tractor and combine market through authorized dealers. While we do not track it, specific information on pricing varies based on manufacturer.” A follow-up email from Motherboard that asked if he could point to a single instance where this is actually the case, or a single manufacturer that explains to farmers where they can get this information or these tools, was unreturned.

………

New sensors and software in tractors have led to this problem. For decades, many farmers did their own repairs. By-and-large, they can no longer do this: the proliferation of onboard computers and fancy equipment in newer models of tractors and combine harvesters has made it hard for farmers to repair the tools they need to keep the country fed.

………

The problem is that farmers often don’t have access to the diagnostic software and repair tools they need to make the fix. According to U.S. PIRG, the John Deere S760 combine harvester has 125 different computer sensors in it. If those sensors start throwing an error code, the combine won’t run and the farmer doesn’t have immediate access to the tools they need to fix the problem.

"It doesn’t matter how industrious they are, what their planting window looks like, or if their tractor goes down right as weather threatens to destroy their crop—modern farming equipment is designed so that farmers need to call the dealership to repair their machines," O'Reilly said.

………

The problem with new machines is so bad that farmers are taking drastic action to repair their own equipment. Some have become hackers, using software and tools they’ve found online to diagnose and repair their equipment. Others are buying 40-year old tractors because they still function and they’re more repairable than new models.

As an aside, these "40-year old tractors" are now selling for more money than their newer counterparts.

As the problem has become more pronounced, legislators are trying to pass right-to-repair laws that would help farmers repair their own equipment. LC 1562 in Montana is one example, a simple piece of legislation that would make it easier for farmers to access the information they need to make repairs.

“What the bill does, overall, is give the owner the ability to purchase the diagnostic tools to make repairs themselves, saving time and money,” Katie Sullivan, a Missoula area state representative said during the town hall. “It supports farmers who don’t have the time to wait for mechanics or have the extra money to spend just to fix a small issue.”

………

Deere has claimed that it can’t allow farmers access to the computer system at this level because it’s a security risk and might lead to farmers breaking federal law. “Sometimes, these modifications can be altered and now the machine is not functioning as it was intended,” Vancil said at a webinar about right to repair with the Florida Farm Bureau last week. “It also starts getting into some areas, if you're talking about emissions, that get into the area where you start having federal topics being introduced from an emissions standpoint.”

This is the same reasoning used by car manufacturers in their attempts to hamstring independent car repair shops.

It is, and remains, complete bullsh%$.

………

It would not be difficult for John Deere and other manufacturers to comply with a right to repair law, or, at the very least, to abide by its own promise. Europe has had some right to repair regulations which require "standardized access to repair and maintenance information (RMI) systems to provide repair and maintenance information for vehicles used in agriculture and forestry" since 2013, and manufacturers comply with those.

And so the solution in the United States seems like it's going to have to be the same. Not a promise from manufacturers and dealers, but legislation with the force of law.

As is always the case, with profit driven businesses.

They will not voluntarily cede a revenue stream, even if it is unfair and abusive, until such time as they are forced to through statute or regulation.