28 February 2023

What a Surprise

In response to the rail disaster New York Governor Kathy Hochul has come out strongly in favor of tighter railroad regulations.  

Less than 2 months before the accident, The Honorable Kathy Hochul vetoed rail safety legislation at the behest of the rail industry.

Now there's a surprised:

In the wake of the recent train derailment and toxic chemical release in East Palestine, Ohio, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called on the federal government to enact stricter regulations on hazmat trains and said that safety is her top priority. Her transportation commissioner said that under Hochul’s leadership, the state is “laser focused on safety in all modes of transportation, especially rail safety.”

Less than three months ago, Hochul struck a different tone with her veto pen. The proposed two-person crew bill — which the governor rejected on December 9, 2022 — would have required most freight trains to be operated by at least a conductor and an engineer, a safety measure that both rail unions and bipartisan lawmakers supported. Railroad companies and business groups opposed it.

Two-person crew laws have passed in states around the country, and the federal government is currently considering its own, as rail companies have slashed their workforces by nearly 30 percent in recent years and are operating longer and heavier trains with smaller crews. Rail unions, federal regulators, and lawmakers have argued that the minimum staffing laws are essential for maintaining safety.


Hochul had said in her veto memo that federal laws and pending rulemaking preempt state two-person crew legislation — an argument the railroads and their lobbying groups have used to oppose state staffing bills. But two-person crew laws have been enacted in other states without legal challenges, and legal experts disagree with Hochul’s assessment of the preemption. 

Hochul may be the most contemptible Democrat in New York state politics.

Hell, she may be the most contemptible politician in New York state politics, and that ain't a low bar.

Today in Religious Hypocrisy

 Jessa Duggar Seewald, of the notorious TaliBaptist Duggar clan, discovered that her fetus was not viable and got an abortion, though she calls it a Dilation and Curettage.

While a D&C has other applications, when done to terminate a pregnancy it is an abortion, period, full stop.

People magazine and other Duggar-loving publications have the story about Jessa Duggar Seewald‘s recent medical treatment, which they take pains to call anything but an abortion.

Seewald’s most recent pregnancy went south, and an ultrasound revealed the fetus did not “look good.” People magazine reports:
Due to risks of complications with passing the fetus at home, she said she decided to check in to a hospital to perform a dilation and curettage procedure to remove the fetus from her womb.
The story does not say whether a heartbeat was detected, or whether the fetus was still alive at the time of the D&C, a procedure more commonly called an abortion. Current Arkansas law allows abortions for dead fetuses, but not for living ones, regardless of their suffering or prospects for survival outside the womb.


The Duggar family and other vehement anti-abortion conservatives helped pass a near-total abortion ban in Arkansas. Removing a living fetus is no longer legal here for any reason except to save the life and health of the mother. (Correction: current Arkansas law does NOT allow for an exception to preserve the health of the mother.)

If her maiden name had not been Duggar, she would have been forced to carry it to term, and deliver it dead, but doctors knew that because of who she was they would be at no legal jeopardy, and Jessa Duggar Seewald knew that she would spared any opprobrium because of her family.

It's because they think that the rules do not apply to them.  They think that the rules never apply to them.

The terrifying bit is that these psychopath zealots are probably right.

What Happens When You Combine Private Equity and Insurance?

Rather unsurprisingly, you get dodgy high-risk financial shenanigans.

As I have stated before, "There is no human activity that private equity cannot ruin."

PE backed insurance companies are now in trouble for because the complex financial instruments that they have invested in are creating systemic risk across the entire insurance sphere:

US insurance regulators on Monday will meet to consider boosting capital charges on complex corporate loan instruments that some in the industry warn are creating excessive risk.

The issue pits insurers backed by large private equity firms such as Blackstone, Apollo Global and KKR — which are increasingly investing in the loans — against traditional life insurers such as MetLife and Prudential Financial, which warn of growing risks. Monday’s gathering is hosted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a trade group whose standards are relied upon by state insurance commissioners.

The private equity-backed insurers are resisting a proposed 50 per cent increase in the capital charges held against the riskiest slices of corporate loan packages that are purchased with annuity premiums. Those increases are supported by many of the largest life insurers in the US, which warn that their aggressive rivals are overloading customer portfolios with excessive risk. Higher capital requirements can help absorb potential investment losses but also depress investment returns.


The debate centres on the $3tn annuities market — financial products that life insurers sell to millions of US savers looking to build income streams for retirement.

It should be noted that the annuities market is a petri dish for fraud, because of the interval between collecting the money and when the fraud becomes apparent is so long.

It's no surprise that PE would want a piece of that.


The insurance businesses inside private equity firms tend to invest in more complex securities in order to earn greater “spread” profits between investment returns and obligations owed to policyholders. The private equity firms have insisted that their portfolio choices do not increase risk of losses but rather seek excess returns through buying illiquid or complex instruments.

The working group of the NAIC is set to discuss the capital charges associated with collateralised loan obligations, or CLOs, that bundle multiple corporate loans and sell in tranches that range in rating from AAA down to high yield and equity.

The current risk-based capital regime, the NAIC noted, allows for an “arbitrage” opportunity for the holder of a CLO loan. A B-rated corporate loan owned by an insurer has to set aside equity of 9.5 per cent. However, a CLO created from a package of B-rated loans with six tranches would have a blended capital charge of just 2.9 per cent.


A letter signed by several large traditional insurers including Equitable, MetLife, New York Life and Prudential, said “structured securities are important financial products, but they also have unique ‘cliff risks’ not present in most financial assets”, referring to the possibility of a sudden catastrophic outcome.

The group supports a recommendation to raise the capital charge for the riskiest equity tranche from 30 per cent to 45 per cent.

In a letter signed by insurers backed by the likes of Apollo, billionaire Todd Boehly’s Eldridge Industries, KKR and Blackstone, this group said the current capital charges were appropriate.

The most important thing to understand about private equity is that they operate under the assumption that they will be gone before their risky schemes explode. 

This has been their basic business model since they were created.

Any "Innovation" proposed by them is likely to be to the detriment of the industry and the general public.

27 February 2023

And the Other Shoe Drops

It looks like crypto exchange Binance is manipulating its assets in an identical manner that crypto exchange FTX did when it tried to hide its insolvency.

If you are wondering if the whole cryptocurrency space is little more than a Ponzi scheme, the answer is, "Yes."

Late last year, as crypto markets were struggling to regain their footing, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange quietly moved $1.8 billion of collateral meant to back its customers’ stablecoins, putting the assets to other undisclosed uses. They did this without informing their customers. According to blockchain data examined by Forbes, from August 17 to early December–about the same time FTX was imploding–holders of more than $1 billion of crypto known as B-peg USDC tokens were left with no collateral for instruments that Binance claimed would be 100% backed by whichever token they were pegged to. B-peg USDC tokens are digital replicas of USDC, a dollar-pegged stablecoin issued by Boston-based Circle Financial, that exist on blockchains not supported by the firm such as Binance’s proprietary Binance Smart Chain. Each stablecoin is worth one U.S. dollar.

Of the raided customer funds, which consisted of USD stablecoin (USDC) tokens, $1.1 billion was channeled to Cumberland/DRW, a Chicago-based high frequency trading firm, whose parent was founded in 1992 and began trading crypto in 2014. Cumberland may have assisted Binance in its efforts to transform the collateral into its own Binance USD (BUSD) stablecoin. Until a crackdown in mid February by the New York State Department of Financial Services on stablecoin issuance, Binance was aggressively seeking to gain market share for its dollar-backed token against rivals like Tether and Circle’s USDC.


The implication of Hillmann’s comments is that despite what balances may show in Binance’s publicly viewable exchange wallets, the firm has its own set of proprietary records to keep track of funds. This would seem to undermine Binance’s recent efforts to demonstrate solvency through proof-of-reserves exercises. Having two sets of books means that the company is asking customers and regulators to trust its accounting while making it very difficult to independently verify the solvency it claims.

It's all a scam.

If fraud is possible, it will happen.  This is why you need those meddling regulators.

Of Course They Are

The Missouri is looking to resurrect a slavery era law to take over the Saint Louis police department now that there is a Black mayor and Black Attorney General.

Equally unsurprising is that the cancer on American law enforcement, police unions, have been aggressively lobbying for this bill:

Police in St. Louis, Missouri, are working to wrest control of their department from the city’s progressive mayor and put it in the hands of the Republican governor.

Law enforcement unions argue that local control has “put politics in policing” and that state oversight would help address an increase in homicides and a drop in police morale and staffing levels. They have rallied around Senate Bill 78, which would reinstate a Civil War-era system of state control overturned by Missouri voters in 2012 — and make St. Louis one of the only major cities in the country without authority over its own police force. The attempt by the Missouri Legislature to strip power away from city officials is a “slap in the face” to constituents in St. Louis, Mayor Tishaura Jones said.

The move comes just two years after St. Louis first elected Jones and progressives won a majority on the city’s Board of Aldermen. While police department operations “are definitely not perfect,” Jones told The Intercept, the people closest to the problem are closest to the solution. Local officials should have control over how law enforcement resources are deployed, she said.

The bill targeting elected leaders in St. Louis is one of several recent efforts across the country to undercut the authority of local progressive officials on policing and prosecution matters. Jones and her allies say the bill is an example of police turning their political efforts toward legislation as their preferred candidates have continued to lose at the ballot box.


Another recent Missouri House bill would allow the governor to strip elected prosecutors of jurisdiction over certain violent crimes. A previous version of the bill singled out the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, where prosecutor Kim Gardner has drawn the ire of Republican officials for her pledges to hold police accountable, stop detaining nonviolent offenders, and end cash bail. Concerns over the constitutionality of targeting a specific office eventually led state officials to expand the scope of the bill.


The St. Louis Police Department was previously overseen by the state in an arrangement dating back to the Civil War, when Missouri’s then-governor enacted state control of local police as he prepared to secede and join the Confederacy. It wasn’t until 2012 that Missouri voters secured local control of the St. Louis Police Department in a statewide referendum. Kansas City’s police department, meanwhile, has remained under state authority. That hasn’t insulated Kansas City from experiencing the same spike in homicides as many other cities across the country in recent years. Nevertheless, St. Louis police and their allies in office have cited a similar spike in St. Louis in calling for a return to state oversight.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association has been vocal in support of the bill, as has the Ethical Society of Police, a union that represents Black cops in St. Louis. The two unions have long disagreed on some political issues, particularly related to police reform. The Ethical Society of Police opposed a move by St. Louis prosecutors to join the officers association in a rebuke of St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell, who ran on a reform platform and ousted longtime officers association ally Bob McCulloch in 2018.

The police in Saint Louis are not peace officers, they are a heavily armed criminal gang with a state license to kill.

This entire corrupt edifice needs to be dismantled brick by brick/

I’m Kind of Surprised That This Took So Long

I read The Dilbert Principle in the last century, and I was convinced that he was a bit of a loony tune, kind of a Shirley McClaine without the song and dance chops, and increasingly in recent years, without McClaine's deft sense of comedy.

Ever since he's gone full time as a cartoonist, he's lost his edge, and increasingly he has stuck his head so far up his ass that he resembles a Klein Bottle.

He's been full MAGAt since 2016, though initiallly he claimed that he merely had some sort of sooper-sekret insight into Trump's idiot savant PR skilz.

Since then, he has doubled down and gone further down that rabbit hole, until last week, when Scott Adams went full racist segregationist on his youtube channel.

Pro-Trump cartoonist Scott Adams pulled the mask all the way off this week, declaring on his podcast that white people should “get the hell away from Black people” while labeling African-Americans as a “hate group.”

Adams, who has written the satirical office comic strip Dilbert for more than three decades, said during his Coffee with Scott Adams online video program that current polling proves that there is “no fixing” the current racial tension in America and that whites should live in largely segregated neighborhoods.


The Dilbert creator has seemingly embraced more radical positions since first comparing former President Donald Trump to Jesus in late 2015. Since then, he’s openly courted controversy while dipping his toes into far-right culture war battles. Outside of peddling debunked COVID-19 cures, Adams also ludicrously predicted that if Joe Biden won the presidential election, there was a “good chance” Republicans would be hunted down and “dead within a year.”

In response, pretty much every newspaper in the nation dropped him, and his syndicate, Andrews McMeel dumped his flabby white ass.

But all is not lost, everyone's favorite Apartheid Emerald Heir Pedo Guy,™ Elon Musk, who accused the media of being racist against white people.

Such a surprise that a man who created virulently racist workplace at his Tesla Fremont Factory, and responded to allegations of pervasive racism by suggesting that his employees should have thicker skins.

Bald, racist, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

26 February 2023

The Stupid, It Burns!!!!

When you see a story with a lede like, "Millions of workers are still missing after COVID. Where did they go?" you know that someone, at least the editor who wrote the headline, is a blithering idiot.

There are at least ½ million workers who are dead, and according to the Brooking Institution, around ½ million other people are unable to work due to Covid disability.

This sh%$ is not that difficult.

25 February 2023

Of Course They Are

It looks like the next new frontier for the Republican Party will be the repeal of child labor laws, because having children work in mines and slaughter houses is the very epitome of capitalism.

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

They are saying that there is a labor shortage, in reality a shortage of poorly paid labor shortage, and they need to have kids working in dangerous work environments to account for this.

They really want to do this:

As child labor law violations have been on the rise in the US, some state legislators are pushing for changes at state and federal levels to roll back protections in what some see as a threat to return child labor to the country.

The laws aim to expand permissible work hours, broaden the types of jobs young workers are permitted to do, and shield employers from liability for injuries, illnesses or workplace fatalities involving very young workers.

Child labor law violations have increased in the US, with a 37% increase in fiscal year 2022, including 688 children working in hazardous conditions, with the number likely much higher as the recorded violations stem from what was found during labor inspections.

The Department of Labor issued a press release in July 2022 noting child labor violations and investigations have increased since 2015.

Several high-profile investigations involving child labor have been exposed over the past year, including the use of child labor in Hyundai and Kia supply chains in Alabama, at JBS meatpacking plants in Nebraska and Minnesota, and at fast-food chains including McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts and Chipotle.


In Iowa, Republican legislators introduced a bill in January to expand the types of work 14- and 15-year-olds would be permitted to do as part of approved training programs, extend allowable work hours, and exempt employers from liability if these young workers are sickened, injured or killed on the job.


The bill would permit the director of Iowa workforce development or the Iowa department of education to grant exceptions from any provision that restricts the types of jobs 14- and 15-year-olds can do if the work is classified as part of a work-based learning program and also strips workers’ compensation rights for these workers.


In Ohio, legislators reintroduced a bipartisan bill this year to extend working hours for 14- and 15-year-olds with permission from a parent or legal guardian, and called on Congress to adopt the same rollbacks at the federal level.

Legislators in Minnesota introduced a bill in January 2023 to extend work hours for 14- and 15-year-olds.

Republicans in Wisconsin passed a bill that was vetoed by Governor Tony Evers in this month that would have expanded work hours for 14- and 15-year-olds. The New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, signed a similar law in 2022 that expanded work hours for 14- and 15-year-olds to work longer hours during summer months and on holidays and expanded allowable work hours for 16- and 17-year-olds.

At the federal level, Republican congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio drafted a bill in 2022 to expand working hours for 14- and 15-year-olds during periods when school is in session.

Advocates for legislative efforts to roll back child labor regulations have cited labor shortages, particularly in industries that rely on young workers, and have been strongly backed by the National Federation of Independent Business.

 F%$# the NFIB and the rest of them.

They don't have a labor shortage, they have a poorly paid and poorly treated labor shortage.

Pay your workers and treat them well, and you will have sufficient employees.

If you are not willing to do this, maybe you should not be running a business.

I'm Doing Better

I feel happy!

I am feeling better.

Not great.  I still feel like someone has worked me over with a bat.

My stomache and lower back hurt, and I don't have much of an appetite, but no congestion or cough.

I spent most of the day in bed sleeping, which no doubt helped.

I'm feeling a lot more like a human being.

24 February 2023

No Blogging Tonight

I'm brewing something.  It feels like someone has gone over my stomach and lower back with a baseball bat.

Posted via mobile 

23 February 2023

This Will Either Be Amazing or Awful

It has been revealed that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the remaining surviving members of the Beatles, will be recording a song with the remaining surviving members of the Rolling Stones.

This should be interesting.

Gee, You Think?

The good folks at The Economist have discovered that, "There is a worrying amount of fraud in medical research."

This is what happens when you set up a system that provides enormous rewards for rent-seeking and other unproductive behavior.  It's kind of Econ 101, and it's why economist, in the abstract, at least, think that rent-seeking is a bad thing.

We need to get the huge sums of money out of medicine.  It literally kills people.

A Pleasant Surprise

It turns out that despite the Biden administration and Congress conspiring to take away railroad workers' right to strike, some of the unions are still getting sick days, with the 2,100 Union Pacific workers, along with 3,000 Norfolk Southern workers and 5,000 workers at CSX have gotten paid sick days anyway.

For NS, it was clearly to put a lid on bad press, and a possible orgy of whistleblower complaints following the chemical spill in Palestine, Ohio, and for the other two, I guess they figured out that having critical employees actively hating their employer is a poor business practice.

About Bloody Time

Seattle has mast a law making caste a protected class, making caste-based discrimination illegal, making it the first municipality in the nation to do so.

This initiative was pushed by council person, and Indian immigrant, Kshama Sawant. (It should be noted that in interviews Swant has noted that she is a Brahman, so this is an action against her own personal privilege)

Member of the Indian community (mostly high caste) argued that there was no caste discrimination, and that this would lead to additional discrimination against South Asians in the United States, which sounds an awful lot like the statements by the religious right who claim that the real bigotry is interfering with their "right" to descriminate:

Seattle made history Tuesday as the first city in the U.S. to expressly ban caste-based discrimination after an outpouring of input from South Asian Americans.

An ordinance introduced by District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant — Seattle’s only elected socialist and the only Indian American on the council — added caste to the list of statuses protected under Seattle’s existing anti-discrimination policies.

“This bill is not technically complicated, it’s a very simple question: Should discrimination based on caste be allowed to continue in Seattle?” Sawant said Tuesday, noting that she hopes the decision will be a “beacon” for other cities to follow suit.


Caste is a hierarchical system, stemming from Hinduism in India, in which societal status is assigned to an individual at birth. Of the five main caste groups, those on the lowest rung of the system, members of the oppressed Dalit caste, are deemed “untouchables,” while the Brahmins, known as the priestly caste, reside at the top. There are thousands of subcastes, and while India officially banned the system, its influence is still felt in South Asia and by South Asians in America.


Opponents of the ordinance argue that the law will discriminate against Hindus and that with more than 2,000 different castes, it’s too complicated of an issue to enforce. Others thought it was hasty or unnecessary.

“Americans of South Asian descent aren’t born or raised with intrinsic knowledge of caste,” opponent Neha Singh said, later calling the ordinance “Hinduphobic.”

“This ordinance is attempting to create a formula in a space where no one knows what they’re talking about,” Singh added.

It should be noted here that Singh is a name that is generally associated with a family of the Brahman Caste, though obviously this is not definitive.

It is human nature to try to protect one's privilege, no matter how specious the argument.

Before the vote Tuesday, Sawant’s office denounced the argument that the policy would harm Hindus, comparing the stance to that of Christians who claim same-sex marriage imposes on the religious rights of those who oppose it.

“Everybody understands this is a right-wing argument,” Sawant said in a statement published before the vote. “Genuine progressives support freedom of religion, but also understand that that cannot be an excuse to abuse LGBTQ people or discriminate against them.”


Many of the Dalit or caste-oppressed individuals who spoke in favor of the ordinance withheld some or all of their names in public comment out of fear of retaliation from current employers. Groups ranging from religious organizations and higher education groups to the Alphabet Workers Union of Google employees spoke more freely in a joint letter sent to the City Council.

Given the back-tracking by the current Indian government on caste protections, and its steadfast opposition to counting caste members in the upcoming national census, it will be very interesting to see how this effects the upcoming Indian elections.

The Term is, "Actual Malice."

If you are at all familiar with US libel and defamation law, you have heard of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which established the standard of, "Actual Malice," meaning that a statement had to be made with, "With knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not," in order for a public figure to prevail in a lawsuit.

Well, recent revelations in the lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News has revealed documents showing that when their "reporters" claimed that Dominion was involved in stealing the election  for Joe Biden, that they knew that this was a lie.

What's more there are records that provide irrefutable documentary evidence that they knew that their allegations of a stolen elections were false when they reported them.

That's actual malice, and Fox News is in for a world of hurt:

The disclosure of emails and texts in which Fox News executives and personalities disparaged the same election conspiracies being floated on their shows has greatly increased the chances that a defamation case against the network will succeed, legal experts say.

Dominion Voting Systems included dozens of messages sent internally by Fox co-founder Rupert Murdoch and on-air stars such as Tucker Carlson in a brief made public last week in support of the voting technology company’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against the network. Dominion claims it was damaged in the months after the 2020 election after Fox repeatedly aired false statements that it was part of a conspiracy to fraudulently elect Joe Biden.

Dominion said the emails and texts show that Fox’s hosts and executives knew the claims being peddled by then-president Donald Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell weren’t true — some employees privately described them as “ludicrous” and “mind blowingly nuts”— but Fox kept airing them to keep its audience from changing channels.

If so, the messages could amount to powerful body of evidence against Fox, according to First Amendment experts, because they meet a critical and difficult-to-meet standard in such cases.

There will be some good to come from this.  As legal maven Lawrence Tribe noted, "If anything, the landmark this case is likely to establish will help show that New York Times v. Sullivan is not an impossible legal hurdle to clear, as some critics have claimed."

Hopefully, this will take some wind out of the sails of Clarence Thomas' jihad against New York Times v. Sullivan.


Once Again, It’s a Feature, Not a Bug

Once again, we have nameless "algorithms" blamed for discriminating against minorities.

We have seen this time and time again.

Intelligent (and I am using that term advisedly) systems provide a means for bigots to get their racism on without fear of repercussions, so they do.

We see this with Facebook employment ads, Gypsy cab apps, and Airbnb.  The unspoken part of their allure is helping their customers discriminate:

Workday stands accused of building algorithms that have resulted in bias against Black applicants in their 40s, according to a lawsuit.

Launched earlier this week in the Northern District Court of California, the case alleges that the HR and payroll SaaS firm "unlawfully offers an algorithm-based applicant screening system that determines whether an employer should accept or reject an application for employment based on the individual's race, age, and/or disability."

The Register has asked Workday to comment.


"The selection tools marketed by Workday to its customers allows these customers to manipulate and configure them in a discriminatory manner to recruit, hire, and onboard employees. Workday's products process and interpret an applicant's qualifications and recommend whether the applicant should be accepted or rejected," the documents add.


"We engage in a risk-based review process throughout our product lifecycle to help mitigate any unintended consequences, as well as extensive legal reviews to help ensure compliance with regulations," a spokesperson said.

When they say, "We engage in a risk-based review process throughout our product lifecycle to help mitigate any unintended consequences," they mean  "We engage in a risk-based review process throughout our product lifecycle to help mitigate any unintended consequences FOR US."

22 February 2023

The Big Story Here

In 2020, then Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich commissioned a report on potential voting irregularities in the Presidential election.

Brnovich got the report in March, 2022, but suppressed the report until through the end of his term, and continued to make allegations of voter fraud until after after he lost the primary for the US Senate that year, then he started calling out election conspiracy theorists as, "Clowns."

The significance to this is not in the release of the documents.  We have always known that there is no, "There," "There," but that he decided to wait until after he had lost his bid to be the party nominee.

Clearly the calculus here was that he felt that it was essential for him to make baseless accusations of voter fraud to remain viable in a Republican primary.

This does not say good things about the current state of the Republican body politic, because it shows a perception that lying about election results is perceived by the (relatively) sane members of the Republican party, feel compelled to toe this bat-sh%$ insane party line.

Even if this is not the reality of today's Republican Party (I think that it is) it does not matter, because it is perceptions, and not behaviors, that drive the actions of political actors:

Nearly a year after the 2020 election, Arizona’s then-attorney general, Mark Brnovich, launched an investigation into voting in the state’s largest county that quickly consumed more than 10,000 hours of his staff’s time.

Investigators prepared a report in March 2022 stating that virtually all claims of error and malfeasance were unfounded, according to internal documents reviewed by The Washington Post. Brnovich, a Republican, kept it private.

In April, the attorney general — who was running in the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat — released an “Interim Report” claiming that his office had discovered “serious vulnerabilities.” He left out edits from his own investigators refuting his assertions.

His office then compiled an “Election Review Summary” in September that systematically refuted accusations of widespread fraud and made clear that none of the complaining parties — from state lawmakers to self-styled “election integrity” groups — had presented any evidence to support their claims. Brnovich left office last month without releasing the summary.


Brnovich quickly affirmed then-President Donald Trump’s loss in Arizona in November 2020, angering fellow Republicans. And he went on to resist Trump’s efforts to overturn the vote. Yet he flirted with claims of fraud as he courted GOP support over the subsequent two years, trumpeting his interim report on a far-right radio show and saying, “It’s frustrating for all of us, because I think we all know what happened in 2020.” It was only in the final days before this past November’s midterm election, several months after Brnovich had lost his Senate primary, that he began to denounce politicians who denied Trump’s defeat, calling them “clowns” engaged in a “giant grift.”


By September 2022, a year into the inquiry, the special investigations section had received 638 election-related complaints and deemed 430 of them worthy of investigation. Of those, just 22 cases were submitted for prosecutorial review; two cases involving felons who illegally sought to vote were prosecuted, leading to convictions.

Brnovich never broadcast the full findings, declining to close the books on suspicions raised by an interim report with characterizations directly rebutted by his own office.

This is not something that is going to be fixed by appealing to the, "Norms Fairy," or by trying to find moderate Republicans, who might exist, but are more closeted than a gay general in the US Marine Corps in 1997.

To quote Robert Graves, "They must be struck into the dust, struck down again as they rise. Struck again while they lie groaning, while their wounds still pain them; they will respect the hand that dealt them."

Elections Have Consequences

The NLRB has ruled that non-disparagement and secrecy clauses in severance agreements are illegal.

Not only is the sort of thing that would never have happened under Reagan,Bush I, Bush II, or Trump.

None of them would have supported labor rights like this:

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that it is generally illegal for companies to offer severance agreements that prohibit workers from making potentially disparaging statements about the employer or from disclosing details of the agreement.

The ruling by the board, which has a Democratic majority, overturns a pair of 2020 decisions, when the board was controlled by Republicans and found that such severance agreements were not illegal on their face. It continues the labor board’s worker- and union-friendly trajectory under appointees of President Biden.

The earlier decisions held that the severance agreements were illegal only if accompanied by other circumstances making them suspect, such as the possibility that they were being used to cover up the illegal firing of employees who tried to form a union.

Still, Anne Lofaso, a professor of labor law at West Virginia University, said the latest decision was limited to rights under the National Labor Relations Act, such as employees’ rights to draw attention to unsafe working conditions, or to engage in other activities that protect or benefit workers as a group.

She said an employer could still offer workers a severance agreement requiring them to give up their right to sue over, say, race discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In the ruling, issued Tuesday, the board said it was returning to longstanding precedent. The 2020 standard, it said, ignored the fact that a severance package with confidentiality or nondisparagement provisions could on its own “unlawfully restrain and coerce” workers’ labor rights.


Charlotte Garden, a professor of labor law at the University of Minnesota, said the 2020 approach had effectively tried to “narrow the rule to situations where an employer was trying to cover up their own previous unlawful activity and prohibit employees from talking about it.” The current ruling, she added, takes a broader view of when employees have the right to speak out.

The ruling could have a direct impact on severance agreements that seek to prevent former employees from publicly discussing sexual harassment or sexual assault accusations. The labor board is likely to consider those agreements illegal.

This is good, but what will really make a change is the willingness of federal prosecutors to frog-march senior executives out of their offices in handcuffs for breaking the law.

That is not under the purview of the of the NLRB, but I can dream of the day when the Department of Justice does this.

21 February 2023

Happy Birthday Potato Man Dad

From a Tweet, because TikTok autoplays

Today would have been My Dad's 89th 90th birthday.

One of his eccentricities was his sending notes where he his signature was a "Potato Man" doodle.

Nat, my eldest, got a tattoo made from the last birthday card that they got from dad.

They took some pictures (top) and did a TikTok (Below).

PR is for "Papa Ron", which is what all the grand kids called him.

I'm not sure how I feel about a tattoo, but Nat misses him, as do I, and sometimes, I expect him to walk through the door.

Happy birthday, dad.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

They stupid, there is Kevin McCarthy stupid, and then there is, Kevin McCarthy McCarthy gives Tucker Carlson complete access to all of the video footage from the January 6 insurrection stupid.

This is basically an instruction manual for the next insurrection, and you are giving it to a vile, unethical, inbred, self aggrandizing homunculus for the radical right.

This will not end well:

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has provided exclusive access to a trove of U.S. Capitol surveillance footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has played down the deadly violence that occurred that day and claimed it was a “false flag” operation.

McCarthy has declined to comment on the unprecedented move, but Carlson said Monday night on his program that his producers have been granted “unfettered” access to security video recorded when hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. Five people died as a result of the attack, and 140 members of law enforcement were injured as the mob used flagpoles, bear spray, baseball bats and other weapons against police.

“So there’s about 44,000 hours, and we have — you may have read today — been granted access to that. … We believe we have secured the right to see whatever we want to see. We’ve been there about a week. Our producers, some of our smartest producers, have been looking at this stuff and trying to figure out what it means and how it contradicts or not the story we’ve been told for more than two years. We think already in some ways that it does contradict that story.”

Carlson said his producers would spend the rest of the week assessing the video and air what they found next week. (U.S. Capitol Police had previously said they shared 14,000 hours of footage with the House select committee investigating the riot.)

The decision by McCarthy, who has not spoken publicly or responded to questions about the release, was first reported by Axios on Monday.


The decision by McCarthy to provide the video to Carlson raised serious questions about whether the release of the footage would force U.S. Capitol Police to change the location of security cameras and why the speaker would give the material to a Fox News host who has peddled conspiracy theories about the attack and not share it with other news organizations.

The why is easy.  Kevin McCarthy is a stupid little man who sees his only path to continuing in power is to suck up to people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson. 

I was not expecting this, but I am not shocked.  Speaker Sad-Sack is a profoundly small person, even among the moral pygmies that constitute the House Republican Caucus.

More of This

It turns out that you get marked increases in employee performance and productivity when employers move to a 4 day work week.

Businesses in the study found that they got the same, or better output from employees with the shorter week:

Want to try a four-day workweek? Put this on the boss’s desk.

A large majority of U.K. companies participating in a test of a four-day workweek said they would stick with it after logging sharp drops in worker turnover and absenteeism while largely maintaining productivity during the six-month study.

In one of the largest trials of a four-day week to date, 61 British businesses ranging from banks to fast-food restaurants to marketing agencies gave their 2,900 workers a paid day off a week to see whether they could get just as much done while working less, but more effectively. More than 90% said they would continue testing the shorter week, while 18 planned to make it permanent, according to a new report from the study’s organizers.


Companies in the U.S. and Canada recently concluded a smaller pilot of a four-day week led by the U.K. study organizers, and similar trials are in the works in Australia, Brazil and elsewhere. Consumer-goods company Unilever PLC recently tested the concept in its New Zealand offices, while Spain’s government plans to pay companies to experiment with a four-day week. In a study in Iceland involving more than 2,500 employees across industries, researchers found most workers maintained or improved their productivity and reported reduced stress.


In the U.K. study, which ran from June through November, most employees didn’t work more intensively, researchers say. Rather, they and their bosses sought to make work days more efficient with hacks such as cutting back on meetings and ensuring employees had more time to focus on completing tasks.

So, basically, they were more productive because they were not consumed by bossjustifying bullsh$.

On a scale of 0 (very negative) to 10 (very positive), employers on average scored their productivity and performance over the six months at 7.5. A survey conducted halfway through the trial found 46% of companies said their business productivity had remained about the same, while 34% reported a slight improvement and 15% a significant improvement.

Meanwhile, 39% of employees said they were less stressed than before the pilot program started; about half reported no change. Nearly half observed improvement in mental health, and 37% also noted an improvement in physical health.

Dave Graeber had it nailed when we wrote Bullsh%$ Jobs.

There is an enormous amount of soul sucking activity in our society, and we now know that, at least in the case of this study, more than 20% of work is just soul sucking.

Best Healthcare System in the World

It turns out that there is a business in doctors doctors providing unnecessary bypass surgery and cardiac catherization to boost their bottom lines.

On June 14, 2017, just before noon, a doctor made an incision near a patient’s groin. Kari Kirk, a representative for the world’s largest medical device company, Medtronic, looked on and began texting her colleague a play-by-play.


Each time a doctor puts a foreign device in someone’s body, it carries a risk of complication, which can include clots or even require amputation. So medical experts, research and even Medtronic’s own device instructions urge doctors to use as few as are necessary.

But, as revealed in Kirk’s text messages, this doctor took an aggressive approach.

“Just used 12 [drug-coated balloons]!!” Kirk texted her colleague.

“Does that mean I owe u $$,” he responded.

“Thats what I'm thinking!!!,” she said. “And now 14 balloons!?

“but only one stent so far??”

“So far!”

As the texting continued, her colleague replied, “U are going to want to start going to the VA all the time.”

The messages, recently unsealed in an ongoing whistleblower lawsuit, give a window into the way money and medicine mingle in the booming business of peripheral artery disease, a condition that afflicts 6.5 million Americans over age 40 and is caused when fatty plaque builds up in arteries, blocking blood flow to the legs.


The suit, filed in 2017 by a sales representative for a competing medical device firm, alleges an illegal kickback scheme between Medtronic and hospital employees. According to the complaint and documents released in the suit, between 2011 and 2018, VA health care workers received steakhouse dinners, Apple electronics and NASCAR tickets, and in turn, Medtronic secured a lucrative contract with the hospital. Meanwhile, the company's representatives allegedly “groomed and trained” physicians at the facility, who then deployed the company’s devices even when it was not medically indicated.

Every medical intervention carries risks, and sales reps were bribing doctors to overuse medical equipment.

The profit motive is destroying our healthcare system.

Tweet of the Day

This is a supernova level burn.

20 February 2023

Kier Starmer is a Hopeless Piece of Sh%$

Current Labour Party leader Kier Starmer has declared that Jeremy Corbyn will not be able to stand for reelection as a member of the party.

Once again, he demonstrates that while the Tories may be his opposition, actual Labour Party members are the enemy: 

Jeremy Corbyn will not be a Labour candidate at the next general election, party leader Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Mr Corbyn was suspended from being a Labour MP and sits as an independent because of a row over antisemitism.

The former Labour leader had hoped to be readmitted so he could stand for re-election as a Labour candidate.

But Sir Keir said the party had changed under his leadership and "we are not going back", adding that if others did not back him they could leave. 


Speaking to the BBC before Sir Keir made his remarks, Mr Corbyn said his suspension from the parliamentary party had been a "pretty poor way of treating people... There has been no process, there has been no discussion, there has been no appeal."

Momentum, the left-wing campaign group set up to support him when he was Labour leader, said: "It should be for Labour members in Islington North to decide their candidate - that is their democratic right.

Even if Labour wins the next elections it will lose, because it will do so by becoming the Conservative Party.

Don’t Let the Door Hit Your Ass on the Way Out, Asshole

This is Not Star Trek.

In Startrek, the Evil Spock has a goatee.

In our world the evil James O'Keefe is clean shaven, and the good James O'Keefe is a cat-herder for the Massachusetts Pirate Party and sports a goatee.
Amid allegations of creating an abusive working environment, inappropriate selfdealing expenditures, and a federal investigation of his organization for theft, James O’Keefe has been fired from the fake news org Project Veritas.

I am amused: 

Project Veritas, the right-wing organization known for its undercover sting operations, has split with James O’Keefe, the group’s founder and chairman, following a bitter management dispute that pulled back the curtain on allegations of workplace misconduct and mismanagement of donor money.

The group’s executive director, Daniel Strack, informed some staff on Monday that O’Keefe had issued an ultimatum demanding that the board of directors resign as a condition for him to stay, according to people familiar with Strack’s account. R.C. Maxwell, a spokesman for Project Veritas, wrote on Twitter that O’Keefe “was removed from his position as CEO by the Project Veritas board.”


O’Keefe’s exit spells an uncertain future for Project Veritas, a controversial organization closely identified with its 38-year-old founder. The group, formed in 2010, has employed deceptive tactics in attempts to expose alleged wrongdoing by journalists, liberals and labor unions. O’Keefe’s secretly recorded videos, sometimes landing their subjects in hot water, have been shown to be selectively edited, often leaving out key context. Recent stings have been aimed at Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant behind one of the coronavirus vaccines, though the company has defended its methods.

If Project Veritas goes away because of this, this will be a good thing.


But behind the scenes, O’Keefe struggled to manage his growing organization.

His exit follows internal conflict that pitted O’Keefe against two of the group’s executives — Barry Hinckley, the chief strategy officer, and Tom O’Hara, the chief financial officer. Earlier this month, O’Keefe sought to oust Hinckley and O’Hara after they raised concerns about his approach to fundraising and treatment of staff.


The 11-page document, which was obtained by The Post, accused O’Keefe of demeaning his employees, mistreating donors and squandering the group’s resources. One person labeled him a “power drunk tyrant.”


The alleged instability extended to interactions with donors, according to the memo. O’Keefe is said to have rudely demanded money from benefactors, rebuffed a donor when she asked for a photo with him and arrived late to donor meetings.


Because it is set up as a nonprofit, Project Veritas is not required to disclose its donors. Details of its financing, however, can be glimpsed in separate disclosures by its benefactors. More than a quarter of its revenue in 2020 came from the Bradley Impact Fund, a donor-advised conservative philanthropy based in Milwaukee, according to a tax filing by that group. Project Veritas sought unsuccessfully in 2017 to plant a false story in The Post about failed Senate candidate Roy Moore. In 2020, it aimed to furnish evidence for Trump’s false claims of voter fraud.

If you think that the Washington Post appears to doing a happy dance, it's because it is doing a happy dance.

They were on the receiving end of one of O'Keefe's (ultimately unsuccessful) attempts to create a false story, so there is a reason for the whole "Just Desserts" vibe.


It looks like Ron Desnatis wanted his election night party last year to be gun free, but tried to cover up that he was asking for this, because he's a hypocrite and a coward.

Of course, that does not matter, because IOKIYAR.  

What a pissant.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis prepared for an election night party in downtown Tampa last year, city officials received a surprising — and politically sensitive — request.

The Republican governor’s campaign wanted weapons banned from his victory celebration at the city-run Tampa Convention Center, a city official said in emails obtained by The Washington Post. And the campaign suggested that the city take responsibility for the firearms ban, the official said — not the governor, who has been a vocal supporter of gun rights.

“DeSantis/his campaign will not tell their attendees they are not permitted to carry because of the political optics,” Chase Finch, the convention center’s safety and security manager, said in an Oct. 28 email to other city officials about the request, which was conveyed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), a state police agency led by a DeSantis appointee.


Tampa Convention Center officials ultimately rejected the request to ban weapons. State law allows concealed firearms to be brought inside the public facility unless the renter insists on a gun-free event. On election night, the campaign did require guests to pass through metal detectors, Finch said.

The previously unreported request to Tampa officials illuminates a touchy issue for DeSantis as he weighs a potential bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Even as DeSantis has earned the highest rating from the National Rifle Association’s political arm, gun owners are balking at his recent appearances at events where firearms were prohibited, according to interviews and online posts.


As DeSantis considers a 2024 presidential bid, potential GOP opponents who have put gun rights at the center of their agendas, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, could seek to capitalize on the issue, said Luis Valdes, Florida state director of Gun Owners of America. Former president Donald Trump, who is running for another term, was credited by the NRA’s political arm in 2020 with doing “more than any president to protect the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”


Candy ass.

I Thought That This Was a Myth

Since I was a wee tyke, I have been told that flushed alligators ending up in the sewers was a myth, and now I find that authorities found a cold shocked 4 foot alligator in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

So, what else has been widely called an urban legend that is actually true in some way?

In an unusual scene for this part of the country, a 4ft-long alligator was rescued from the famed Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn on Sunday.

The itinerant crocodilian – most likely an unwanted pet – was in poor condition and described as sluggish by park officials, the local news station PIX11 reported. Authorities said the lethargic alligator might have been shocked by the cold.

“Parks are not suitable homes for animals not indigenous to those parks – domesticated or otherwise,” the spokesperson said. “In addition to the potential danger to park-goers this could have caused, releasing non-indigenous animals or unwanted pets can lead to the elimination of native species and unhealthy water quality.”
Officials brought the alligator to Animal Care Centers, and it was subsequently taken to the Bronx Zoo for rehabilitation, the news station said. They believe that the alligator was probably a pet who had been abandoned by its owner in the lake, according to reports.


Alligators go astray periodically in New York City. Authorities rescue a handful of alligators each year, “typically former pets that have been abandoned after having outgrown their cute phase,” the New York Times reported.

Seriously, just don't keep wild animals as pets.

19 February 2023

Is Anyone Surprised by This?

A study indicates that above a rather modest salary level, very highly paid employees do not show any greater ability than their lesser paid compatriots.  In fact Dan Ariely's work showed that high levels of remuneration were associated with reduced performance years ago.

What this one shows is that very high levels of pay does not bring in people who are more capable, and in fact at extremely high levels of pay, you get a slight reduction of the quality of your employees.


Are the best-paying jobs with the highest prestige done by individuals of great intelligence? Past studies find job success to increase with cognitive ability, but do not examine how, conversely, ability varies with job success. Stratification theories suggest that social background and cumulative advantage dominate cognitive ability as determinants of high occupational success. This leads us to hypothesize that among the relatively successful, average ability is concave in income and prestige. We draw on Swedish register data containing measures of cognitive ability and labour-market success for 59,000 men who took a compulsory military conscription test. Strikingly, we find that the relationship between ability and wage is strong overall, yet above €60,000 per year ability plateaus at a modest level of +1 standard deviation. The top 1 per cent even score slightly worse on cognitive ability than those in the income strata right below them. We observe a similar but less pronounced plateauing of ability at high occupational prestige.

We don't have highly paid executives, we have overpaid executives

Went to the Walters Art Museum Today

It was fun.  I took pictures, weapons and armor for me, and pictures of jewelry, textiles, and beads for Sharon*.

I took pictures of the description cards as well, so we have the museum inventory numbers. You can see the files here.

I've attached a few of the pictures in no particular order, but you can see everything at the link.

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

It's Gone, MacReady

Roll Tape!

One of the things that gives me pleasure is to invoke, obscure, and not so obscure, movie lines when I get the chance.

Today, we were shopping for ingredients for from-scratch spaghetti sauce.

One of the ingredients that we needed was Oregano, so

Sharon* sent me to the spice aisle to get some, but there was none there.  None of the regular stuff, none of the organic stuff, nada.

Apparently, it had all been taken by a ravening band of pasta chefs.

So I went back to Sharon*, and I said, "It's gone, MacReady," and she said, "No oregano at all," and I said, "It's GONE!"

Having the opportunity to quote from John Carpenter's classic SF/Horror movie The Thing made my f$#ing day.

It all ended well, because they had some fresh Oregano in produce, so it's all good.

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

18 February 2023

Good to Know

It appears that with all of the cuts being made by the criminal enterprise formerly known as Facebook™, the company has still seen fit to boost Mark Zuckerberg's security budget by 40%, because it appears that mass layoffs might result in a former employee going postal on him.

Seriously, Zuckerberg can pay for his own thugs:

Facebook parent company Meta is slashing costs practically everywhere, but it's not cutting founder Mark Zuckerberg's considerable personal security budget – that's actually getting a $4m boost.

In an SEC filing published yesterday, Meta said Zuck's personal security budget would be increased to a pre-tax allowance of $14 million after having been previously set at $10 million in 2018.

That massive security budget is necessary "to address safety concerns due to specific threats to his safety arising directly as a result of his position as Meta's founder, Chairman, and CEO," the company said in its filing, adding: "Meta requires security measures for the company's benefit because of the importance of Mr Zuckerberg to Meta."


As The Register reported in 2017, Zuckerberg's $4.26 million spent in the prior year on private security was nearly four times that of the next most paranoid well-protected tech leader: Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who only used $1.6m on his security in the same period.

Zuckerberg's security costs continue to dwarf those of other tech leaders, and aren't limited to what Meta budgets for him: on top of his $10 million security allowance, Zuck used an additional $13.4 million of Meta money on security in 2020.

If you don't want people in this increasingly gun infested nation to shoot you, perhaps should try to treat your employees decently.

Hell, maybe you should try to start treating the world more decently.

I'm sorry ……… That's just crazy talk.


Down in Baltimore, at Johns Hopkins University, computer science professor Peter Fröhlich grades his students on a very specific sort of curve. 

He takes the highest score for a student on his final exam, and sets that number as 100%, and all the other grades are a then assigned a percentage score, and a grade, based on this number.

In a way, it is the epitome of computer science.  It is a simple algorithm, it requires very little though or preparation, and it only tangentially addresses the mess that is reality.

His students boycotted his final exam en masse, securing an "A" for the final grade for all of them.

Just so you know, the professor is accepting his current results, and adjusting the policy:

Since he started teaching at Johns Hopkins University in 2005, Professor Peter Fröhlich has maintained a grading curve in which each class’s highest grade on the final counts as an A, with all other scores adjusted accordingly. So if a midterm is worth 40 points, and the highest actual score is 36 points, "that person gets 100 percent and everybody else gets a percentage relative to it,” said Fröhlich.

This approach, Fröhlich said, is the "most predictable and consistent way" of comparing students' work to their peers', and it worked well.

At least it did until the end of the fall term at Hopkins, that is.

As the semester ended in December, students in Fröhlich’s "Intermediate Programming", "Computer System Fundamentals," and "Introduction to Programming for Scientists and Engineers" classes decided to test the limits of the policy, and collectively planned to boycott the final. Because they all did, a zero was the highest score in each of the three classes, which, by the rules of Fröhlich’s curve, meant every student received an A.


Fröhlich took a surprisingly philosophical view of his students' machinations, crediting their collaborative spirit. "The students learned that by coming together, they can achieve something that individually they could never have done," he said via e-mail. “At a school that is known (perhaps unjustly) for competitiveness I didn't expect that reaching such an agreement was possible.”

Although Fröhlich conceded that he did not include such a “loophole” in the policy “with the goal of students exploiting it,” he decided to honor it after the boycott.

Despite awarding As to all the students who participated in the boycott, the experience has led Fröhlich to alter his long-held grading policy.

I'm not sure why I find this so amusing, but I am profoundly amused.

I Will Use Their Tears to Season my Soup

In Oregon, the state court of appeals ruled that 2nd Amendment sanctuary cities are unlawful

In Columbia County, they had passed a law making enforcement of state and federal gun laws illegal, and had provisions to fine law enforcement for doing their jobs.

The court is having none of this:

An Oregon court dealt a blow to the state’s “second amendment sanctuary” movement, deciding on Wednesday that local governments cannot ban police from enforcing certain gun laws in a ruling that could hold national ramifications for anti-gun control efforts.

At the center of the lawsuit was a 2020 measure passed in Columbia county, a conservative area in the Democratic state, that argued state and federal gun laws did not apply in the county and banned local officials from enforcing the regulations. The rural region was one of some 1,200 in the US, from Virginia to New Mexico to Florida, to pass a second amendment sanctuary resolution.

The Oregon state court of appeals ruled the law, which included fines for officials who enforce most federal and state gun laws, violated a law granting the state the authority to regulate firearms. The ordinance would effectively “create a ‘patchwork quilt’ of firearms laws in Oregon”, the court found.


This is one of the first rulings on this sort of laws, and it sets a wonderful precedent.

How Did I Not Know This?

I have been living with cats for all of of about about 12 of my years, and I never noticed that cats are Sand People from Star Wars, "Sand People always ride single file to hide their numbers."

The slow motion video on the bottom is mesmerizing.

Truly, America's Finest News Source

First, some context.

The New York Times over the past few months has been aggressively pushing transphobia in its stories.

This is not just it's right-wing OP/ED contributor freaks, but it's news page too:


In the past eight months the Times has now published more than 15,000 words’ worth of front-page stories asking whether care and support for young trans people might be going too far or too fast," 


That cumulative figure of 15,000 words doesn’t include the 11,000 or so words the New York Times Magazine devoted to a laboriously evenhanded story about disagreements over the standards of care for trans youth; or the 3,000 words of the front-page story from its designated anti-wokeness-beat reporter, Michael Powell, on whether trans women athletes are unfairly ruining the competition for other women; or the 1,200 words of the front-page story by Powell on how trans interests are banning the word woman from abortion-rights discourse."

Complete Lack of Integrity

This has gotten so bad that over 1,000 Times contributors, along with a over 20,000 other people, have signed a letter calling the newspaper out for its apparent anti-trans bias, which was promptly condemned by issuing an (immediately leaked) memo stating that,"Will not tolerate, participation by Times journalists in protests organized by advocacy groups or attacks on colleagues on social media and other public forums."

Needless to say, there has been a huge amount of condemnation about the behavior of the Times editors, but none was as effective, nor were as on target as The Onion:

It Is Journalism’s Sacred Duty To Endanger The Lives Of As Many Trans People As Possible

The task of reporting is not a simple one. Each and every day, reporters and editors at publications like The Onion make difficult decisions about which issues should receive attention, knowing that our coverage will influence not only how people think, but also how they act. This responsibility is at the core of an ongoing debate over whether news coverage of transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people is unduly biased. As the world’s leading news publication with a daily readership of 4.3 trillion, The Onion is compelled to weigh in.

We firmly believe that it is journalism’s sacred duty to endanger the lives of as many trans people as possible.

“Quentin” is a 14-year-old assigned female at birth who now identifies as male against the wishes of his parents. His transition was supported by one of his unmarried teachers, who is not a virgin. He stole his parents’ car and drove to the hospital, where a doctor immediately began performing top surgery on him. Afterward, driving home drunk from the hospital, Quentin became suicidally depressed, and he wonders now, homeless and ridden with gonorrhea, if transitioning was a mistake.

We just made Quentin up, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean stories like his aren’t potentially happening everywhere, constantly. Good journalism is about finding those stories, even when they don’t exist. It’s about asking the tough questions and ignoring the answers you don’t like, then offering misleading evidence in service of preordained editorial conclusions. In our case, endangering trans people is the lodestar that shapes our coverage. Frankly, if our work isn’t putting trans people further at risk of trauma and violence, we consider it a failure.

It goes on, but you get the gist.  It's one of the rather longer bits.

The Onion does a better job of condemning the moral pygmies at the the Gray Lady than does the whole rest of the media, though to be fair, those other folks made a good faith attempt.

Read the article in The Onion, right down to the signatures at the end:

17 February 2023

This May be a New Record

From announcement of intent to organize to illegal firings and an NLRB complaint in 24 hours  is anyone surprised that it is Tesla that did this?

This is not going to end until Elon Musk is frog marched out of his offices in handcuffs:

Tesla has reportedly fired employees at its Buffalo, NY, gigafactory just a day after workers announced plans to unionize.

In a complaint filed with America's National Labor Relations Board and viewed by The Register, representatives from the Rochester regional Workers United joint board named 18 employees they say were terminated from the Autopilot department at the gigafactory "in retaliation for union activity and to discourage union activity."


The Buffalo workers were reportedly pushed to unionize after Tesla shut down an internal channel that employees used to complain about their jobs.


The union said in its statement that remaining Tesla employees received an email at 1900 on the day of the firings, informing them of a new policy prohibiting the recording of workplace meetings without all participants' consent.

"This policy violates federal labor law and also flouts New York's one-party consent law to record conversations," Tesla Workers United said. 

The union asked in its complaint for injunctive relief under section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act, which would restore the employee's status before the labor violation occurred while allowing the NLRB time to investigate.


The NLRB has already found Tesla guilty once before of suppressing union activity, and the company has also been accused of improperly terminating employees. Suffice it to say, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Tesla's guilty of these allegations as well.

Violations of labor laws, securities fraud, an alleged sexual assault (and subsequent offer of a pony), etc.

Why the hell is this guy not wearing an ankle monitor awaiting trial?

Pissing off the Judge is a Bad Idea

It appears that Federal Judge Louis Kaplan has lost his patience with with Sam Bankman-Fried's attempt to break coerce witnesses and poison the jury pool, and is considering placing additional restrictions on his access to computers and the internet.

It seems that the judge is pushing the prosecution to ask for more restrictive conditions than they originally requested, indicating that the judge is not a happy camper:

Since his arrest two months ago, Samuel Bankman-Fried, the disgraced cryptocurrency executive, has been physically confined to the Palo Alto home of his parents, under the force of a $250 million bail package.

But he has roamed largely unfettered in the wilderness of the internet: conducting interviews, posting narratives, making calls on encrypted apps and using a virtual private network, a web tool that allows users to conceal data and visit websites without detection.

Those unrestrained days may soon be over.

On Thursday, a federal judge overseeing Mr. Bankman-Fried’s multibillion-dollar fraud case signaled a willingness to jail him for his persistent testing of his confinement’s boundaries, going beyond what prosecutors had asked.


No new conditions were set during Thursday’s hearing, the latest of several hearings, held in federal court in Manhattan, to consider more restrictive bail terms. Judge Kaplan asked both sides to prepare concrete proposals that would limit and monitor Mr. Bankman-Fried’s access to the internet without inhibiting his ability to participate in his defense.


But nearly from the outset of his house arrest, Mr. Bankman-Fried has published blog posts on Substack and entertained visitors, including several journalists, at his parents’ home. Late last month, federal prosecutors accused him of using the encrypted messaging app Signal to communicate with a possible witness.

The technical term for this is witness tampering, and it's a crime.


On Feb. 1, Judge Kaplan ordered him to stop using encrypted apps while he weighed the issues. Eventually, though, prosecutors reached a deal with Mr. Bankman-Fried’s lawyers that would have prohibited him from using some apps, while explicitly permitting others.

But at a hearing last week, Judge Kaplan said he wasn’t convinced that those arrangements would fully prevent Mr. Bankman-Fried from secretly communicating with the outside world.

Then, on Monday, prosecutors said in a court filing that Mr. Bankman-Fried had twice used a virtual private network, or VPN, to gain access to the internet. His lawyer said he had used the VPN to watch National Football League playoff games, including the Super Bowl, through an international streaming subscription that he bought when he lived in the Bahamas.

At Thursday’s hearing, Judge Kaplan seemed skeptical about this explanation, noting that Mr. Bankman-Fried was living in “California, which is in the United States,” and could watch the Super Bowl on television.

But Judge Kaplan reserved his most pointed questions of the afternoon for the government. He interrupted a prosecutor, Nicolas Roos, as he laid out ideas that would broadly limit and monitor Mr. Bankman-Fried’s access to the internet and communications technology.

“There is a solution,” the judge said. “But it’s not one anyone has proposed yet.”

Mr. Roos gave a hesitating response before Judge Kaplan continued, saying that according to the government’s own account, Mr. Bankman-Fried had done things that suggested he “either committed or attempted to commit a federal felony while on release.”

Yeah.  That dog ain't hunting.


Judge Kaplan noted that the hearing was not called to consider bail revocation, “but it could get there, conceivably.”


“We understand from your comments today that there is no margin for error,” he said. Any more violations, he said, and “we will be in a very different proceeding.”

Am I a bad person for wanting SBF to chill his heels in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York until the trial is over?