31 March 2023

An Interesting Point

While it is an article of faith that higher education is is a profoundly left wing endeavor, the reality is that in the ways that really matter, higher education is a profoundly conservative enterprise.

The virtue signaling that people generally associate with higher education doesn't really mean anything, hence the, "Signaling," bit. 

In reality these are people who have done quite well by the status quo, and who zealously preserve their prerogatives.

Perhaps the stupidest idea that everyone takes for granted is that higher education in the United States is left-wing.

If "left" and "right" have any meaning at all, "right" describes a worldview under which civilized society depends upon legitimate hierarchy, and a key object of politics is properly defining and protecting that hierarchy.

"Left", on the other hand, is animated by antipathy to hierarchy, by an egalitarianism of dignity. While left-wing movements recognize that effective institutions must place people in different roles — sometimes hierarchical, sometimes associated with unequal rewards — these are contingent, often problematic, overlays upon a foundational assertion that every human being has equal dignity and equal claim to the fundamental goods of human life.

Whatever else colleges and universities do in the United States, they define and police our most consequential social hierarchy, the dividing line between a prosperous if precarious professional class and a larger, often immiserated, working class. The credentials universities provide are no guarantee of escape from paycheck-to-paycheck living, but statistically they are a near prerequisite.

In fact, when one looks at colleges, particularly elite ones, their mission is to protect the hierarchy, so, for example, going to Harvard, or Yale, or Princeton, etc. is primarily a way to create, "Made Men," in the way the term was used in the Scorsese film Goodfellas.

The academy itself is incredibly hierarchical. Within a university, distinctions reign between a graduate student or postdoc, an adjunct, an assistant professor on tenure track, an associate versus full professor. These ranks are salient and consequential, treated as legitimate and earnestly policed.

Nothing is spared hierarchy in academia. Institutions are organized into pecking orders. Harvard University and Towson University are not the same. Everyone understands their relative rank, the social consequences of which are very real.


Universities become bastions of an ostentatious "leftism" even while these same leftists perform the workaday labor of sorting and excluding upon which our stratified society depends. I'm not a fan of psychological explanations for political difference, but it does seem a touch neurotic.

Read the rest.of it, it's really worth the  minutes or so that it would take.

Right After the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation*

The folks at Cigna (F$#@ Cigna) have have established a brave new system of claims reviews, where they have setup a system that rejects claims without any human being have reviewed the claims.

At the medical insurer, reviewers spent an average of 1.2 seconds per review.

I have had the misfortune of being a Cigna customer for some of my employer covered plans, and I am rally surprised that someone is not vandalizing their offices on a weekly basis:

When a stubborn pain in Nick van Terheyden’s bones would not subside, his doctor had a hunch what was wrong.

Without enough vitamin D in the blood, the body will pull that vital nutrient from the bones. Left untreated, a vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis.

A blood test in the fall of 2021 confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis, and van Terheyden expected his company’s insurance plan, managed by Cigna, to cover the cost of the bloodwork. Instead, Cigna sent van Terheyden a letter explaining that it would not pay for the $350 test because it was not “medically necessary.”

The letter was signed by one of Cigna’s medical directors, a doctor employed by the company to review insurance claims.


The vague wording made van Terheyden suspect that Dr. Cheryl Dopke, the medical director who signed it, had not taken much care with his case.

Van Terheyden was right to be suspicious. His claim was just one of roughly 60,000 that Dopke denied in a single month last year, according to internal Cigna records reviewed by ProPublica and The Capitol Forum.

(emphasis mine)

Running the math, 176 hours and 60,000 denials is 10.6 seconds per "Review".

Why this is not a violation of medical ethics by Cigna's trained squirrels?


Before health insurers reject claims for medical reasons, company doctors must review them, according to insurance laws and regulations in many states. Medical directors are expected to examine patient records, review coverage policies and use their expertise to decide whether to approve or deny claims, regulators said. This process helps avoid unfair denials.

But the Cigna review system that blocked van Terheyden’s claim bypasses those steps. Medical directors do not see any patient records or put their medical judgment to use, said former company employees familiar with the system. Instead, a computer does the work. A Cigna algorithm flags mismatches between diagnoses and what the company considers acceptable tests and procedures for those ailments. Company doctors then sign off on the denials in batches, according to interviews with former employees who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We literally click and submit,” one former Cigna doctor said. “It takes all of 10 seconds to do 50 at a time.”

They need to start suspending these doctors' medical licenses, and maybe frog march some executives out of the corporate offices in handcuffs.

*Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, remember?
The Encyclopedia Galactica defines a robot as a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of a man. The marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing devision of the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

30 March 2023

Not This Sh$# Again!

After Joe Biden betrayed the idea of DC self-rule with his signing a bill to cancel their long overdue update to their criminal laws, it looks like Republicans are going to try to overturn Washington, D.C.'s new police accountability laws as well, because if cops cannot shoot black people with impunity, it is an affront to Republican Jesus.

House Republicans are preparing for the next round in their perennial boxing match against D.C. home rule, this time targeting D.C.’s police accountability legislation after Congress voted to block the city’s criminal code overhaul.

But whether their new effort succeeds will once again depend on Democrats.

The looming congressional examination of D.C.’s policing legislation is expected to test the extent to which Democrats support D.C. home rule, as most say they do — and how vulnerable they could be to Republican political attacks that they are “anti-police.”

The Democrats are spineless cowards.

Unfortunately for them, people do not like to vote for spineless cowards.

It's bad policy and bad politics.


Not waiting to find out, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) penned a letter to House and Senate leadership on Friday opposing congressional efforts to overturn the bill, getting a much earlier start in lobbying Congress against the disapproval legislation after Mendelson and others acknowledged that murky and disunified messaging hampered the city during the previous debate over the crime bill.

This is a polite way of saying that Bowser vetoed the crime bill and was overridden, and may have encouraged Congress to overrule the law.


The Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2022 would make permanent certain reforms the city enacted on an emergency or temporary basis after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in 2020, such as prohibiting the use of neck restraints. It also would expand public access to police disciplinary records and access to police body-camera footage in excessive force incidents. Additionally, the bill would require officers to issue Miranda-like warnings before conducting a search with a person’s consent, would prevent hiring officers who have committed past misconduct and would not allow the police union to negotiate police discipline, which the union strongly opposes.

This is really pretty weak tea, but the Republicans have a cudgel, and they intend to use it.

They don't care if it's wrong or if it's right.

Just do the right thing.

Oh, the Covfefe of It All

Yesterday, I was complaining that the New York City grand jury looking at the Stormy Daniels payoff was going on one month vacation.

Today, they voted to indict Donald Trump.

No specifics on the charges yet, they have not been unsealed.

Based on my limited understanding of the law, it appears that it might be falsifying business records, conspiring to evade campaign finance law, etc.

Donald Trump was indicted for his role in paying hush-money to a porn star on the eve of the 2016 election, marking the first time in American history that a former president has faced criminal charges.

The grand jury returned the indictment of Mr. Trump after a vote on Thursday, kicking off a process in which the former president is expected to come to New York to face the charges. The indictment, sought by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, isn’t public.

“This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender,” a Bragg spokeswoman said.

In New York, judges routinely keep charges under wraps until defendants make their initial appearance in court. Mr. Trump is likely to surrender and appear for his arraignment on Tuesday, said Susan Necheles, one of his lawyers.


The case brought by Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, is far from a sure bet. Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr. , and federal prosecutors each passed on charging Mr. Trump in a stand-alone case related to the hush money. If the case goes to trial, a conviction would almost certainly require a jury to credit the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who has faced his own legal troubles and pleaded guilty to an array of federal felonies in 2018. Among them was a campaign-finance offense for the porn-star payment, as well as charges of lying to a bank and to Congress.

I am smiling, but not celebrating.

I won't celebrate until they strap on an ankle monitor and make him turn over his passport.

It's Thursday, and We Have Unemployment Numbers

Initial unemployment claims rose by 7,000 to 198,000, still low by historical standards.

I would note that a lot of this is because ½ million potential workers are dead, another 3+ million are disabled, and perhaps another million decided to retire early.

The employment population ratio remains below its prepandemic levels.

Continuing claims fell to 1,906,497, a decrease of 32,255.

I still think that we are looking at all this through the lens of the before times:

Worker filings for unemployment benefits rose last week but were still historically low, showing that the broader labor market remains robust despite large companies announcing layoffs.

Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, increased by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 198,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The level of claims fluctuated earlier this month, but broadly remains low. The four-week average of weekly claims, which smooths out volatility in the weekly numbers, ticked up by 2,000 to 198,250. Weekly claims have remained near the 2019 prepandemic average of about 220,000 for several months.



Quote of the Day

Like all tumors, this one should be excised: MacAskill’s continued presence at Oxford, in particular, is a nasty, dripping blemish on the face of the entire field of academic philosophy. Unfortunately, the FTX story has become an object lesson in how rarely such ailments are actually addressed at the very top of our society – how freely the cancer of greed and self-dealing has been allowed to spread its tendrils from Oxford to Stanford to MIT to the U.S. Congress, destroying the lives of normal people at every step of the way.

Enough of this euphemistic equivocation, tell us how you REALLY feel.

More seriously,  it is clear that the "Philosophy" of Effectve Altruism is, to quote John Kenneth Galbraith, "Engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

H/t Atrios.

29 March 2023

I Can haz Prosecushuns?

I get that Ginni Thomas and Clarence Thomas are different people, even if they have been married for decades.

I am not my wife either.

However, the idea that a group of people trying to secure a favorable supreme court ruling donated over $½ million without the knowledge that at the very least Ginni Thomas would personally lobby for them is absurd on its face.

Investigate Ginni Thomas, and investigate Clarence "The Worst Spokesman for Coca-Cola Ever" Thomas, and prosecute when (it ain't if) wrongdoing is found:

A little-known conservative activist group led by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, collected nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations to wage a cultural battle against the left over three years, a Washington Post investigation found.

The previously unreported donations to the fledgling group Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty were channeled through a right-wing think tank in Washington that agreed to serve as a funding conduit from 2019 until the start of last year, according to documents and interviews. The arrangement, known as a “fiscal sponsorship,” effectively shielded from public view details about Crowdsourcers’ activities and spending, information it would have had to disclose publicly if it operated as a separate nonprofit organization, experts said.

The Post’s investigation sheds new light on the role money from donors who are not publicly identified has played in supporting Ginni Thomas’s political advocacy, long a source of controversy. The funding is the first example of anonymous donors backing her activism since she founded a conservative charity more than a decade ago. She stepped away from that charity amid concerns that it created potential conflicts for her husband on hot-button issues before the court.


In recent months, the high court has faced increasing scrutiny over a range of ethical issues, including the lack of transparency surrounding potential conflicts of interest and a whistleblower’s claim that wealthy Christian activists sought access to justices at social gatherings to shore up their resolve on abortion and other conservative priorities.


In 2019, anonymous donors gave the think tank Capital Research Center, or CRC, $596,000 that was designated for Crowdsourcers, according to tax filings and audits the think tank submitted to state regulators. The majority of that money, $400,000, was routed through yet another nonprofit, Donors Trust, according to that organization’s tax filings. Donors Trust is a fund that receives money from wealthy donors whose identities are not disclosed and steers it toward conservative causes.

I get that the Supreme Court is not bound by the same ethics rules, and possibly the same laws, as the rest of the Federal Judiciary, but even if Clarence Thomas cannot be charged for this, Ginni Thomas can be charged with influence peddling.

Charge her and arrest her now.

The Jurisprudence Around IP is F$#@ed up and Sh$#

The internet archive bought books, scanned them, and lent them out.

This was a 1 to 1 thing.  The book was unavailable, so there was only one book out there.

The judge just made a summary judgement that the Internet Archive violated copyright.

The basis of the judge's ruling,  as Anna Russel would say, "I'm not making this up, you know," was that it the actions of the Internet Archive were an infringement on the publishers business model.

A federal judge rejected the Internet Archive's claim that it has a fair use right to lend out a digital copy of each printed book that it has purchased, raising the possibility of it facing huge damages for copyright infringement.

A week ago, Judge John Koeltl from the Southern District of New York heard oral arguments in Hachette v. Internet Archive, a lawsuit filed by four large publishers (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House) that challenged the Internet Archive's Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) initiative.

The Internet Archive has been making digital copies of physical books that it acquires and lending those copies to online library patrons in a controlled manner – it circulates only as many digital books as it has actual copies. It is offering a digital proxy that stands in for the physical title.

Copying works protected by US copyright law may be excused if the copying falls under the fair use exemption.

The non-profit claims its book scanning and distribution qualifies as fair use because its digital lending scheme is "transformative" – which conveys a different meaning than the original – and non-commercial. These are among the factors considered when assessing whether the fair use defense can be applied.

It also asserts that the goals of the "first sale doctrine" – which allows the purchaser of a copyrighted work to sell, display or otherwise dispose of that particular copy without seeking permission from the copyright holder – support its controlled lending of digitized purchased books.

Judge Koeltl, however, found the Internet Archive's arguments wanting. In a decision [PDF] published on Friday, he wrote.

"The crux of IA’s first factor argument is that an organization has the right under fair use to make whatever copies of its print books are necessary to facilitate digital lending of that book, so long as only one patron at a time can borrow the book for each copy that has been bought and paid for," Koeltl opined.

"But there is no such right, which risks eviscerating the rights of authors and publishers to profit from the creation and dissemination of derivatives of their protected works. IA’s wholesale copying and unauthorized lending of digital copies of the Publishers’ print books does not transform the use of the books, and IA profits from exploiting the copyrighted material without paying the customary price."

You see what I am saying here?  The judge has manufactured a claim to an inalienable right to profit.

I would note that this is one step from telling people that they cannot share books, or resell them once they are done with them.

They actually tried to claim this, and lost in a 6-3 Supreme Court decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, where they attempted to prevent resales of books.

There is something very wrong with how the powers that be address a licensing issue that is supposed to be for the public interest, and any private profit is incidental to that public interest.

Today in Being Evil

Federal judge Judge James Donato has ruled that Google deliberately destroyed evidence in the Android antitrust litigation.

Let's see, Google:

  • Set up its internal chats to automatically self-destruct after 24 hours.
  • Refused to tell the court or the plaintiff that they had such a policy.
  • Google employees systematically steered all discussions involving competitive issues to self-destructing chats.

So not the judge is promising sanctions.

I can't imagine why?

Google Chat histories handed over by the web giant in ongoing Android antitrust litigation reveal the biz has been systematically destroying evidence, according to those suing the big G.

"Google employees regularly and intentionally diverted to 'history off' Chats [sic] conversations about Google’s anticompetitive Revenue Share Agreements, Mobile Application Distribution Agreements, Google Play Billing payment policies and pricing, and a variety of other critical issues – specifically to ensure that those Chats would be destroyed," the plaintiffs – a mix of state government, corporate, and individuals – claim in a legal brief [PDF] filed on Monday.

Google's conduct, the plaintiffs argue, has hindered the Android antitrust case and requires a substantial penalty from the San Francisco federal courts.

Related claims surfaced in February, in the US Department of Justice's lawsuit challenging Google's search business.

Google Chat, the mega-biz's messaging app for mobile and desktop devices, has a history feature that can be turned on and off, in accordance with data retention preferences and policies. According to the Department of Justice, Google defaulted most chat sessions to history-off, when it should have kept history-on based due to the requirements of litigation.

Around that time, Judge James Donato, of the northern district of California – who is adjudicating the combined Android antitrust cases brought by the State of Utah and more than 30 other states, commonwealths, and districts; by Epic Games; by Match Group; and by netizens – issued an order directing Google to produce additional chats records. This was to test the proposition that a significant amount of case-relevant Google Chat messages categorized as off-the-record had been systematically deleted.

Google subsequently produced those records, which, the plaintiffs contend, demonstrate a systematic effort to conceal relevant communications. The chat records – 35 exhibits – were entered into the court record along with the plaintiffs' filing.


Just as we published this article, the judge in the case sanctioned Google.

In a finding of fact [PDF], Judge Donato concluded Google not only failed to adequately preserve records but also took steps to undermine the litigation.

“Consequently, on the record as a whole, the court concludes that Google did not take reasonable steps to preserve electronically stored information that should have been preserved in the anticipation or conduct of litigation,” the judge wrote, noting that the record shows the deleted Chat evidence cannot be recovered through additional discovery.

There is evidence of specific people acting in direct defiance of the order.  You could issue fines, but I think that a few weeks in jail would have the effect of deterring more of the same.

The Wheels of Justice Grind ……… Never

You know that iminent indictment of Donald Trump?  The one about the Stormy Daniels payoff?

It won't be happening before may, because the grand jury is taking the next month off.

The Manhattan grand jury examining Donald Trump’s alleged role in a hush money payment to a porn star isn’t expected to hear evidence in the case for the next month largely due to a previously scheduled hiatus, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.

The break would push any indictment of the former president to late April at the earliest, although it is possible that the grand jury’s schedule could change. In recent weeks, the Manhattan district attorney’s office hasn’t convened the panel on certain days. But it is District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prerogative to ask the grand jury to reconvene if prosecutors want the panel to meet during previously planned breaks.

Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

Donald Trump is going to die in his sleep at his ticky-tacky penthouse apartment surrounded by his kids and his wife, who will pretend to love him.


28 March 2023

Death by Chocolate

And not in a good way. 

There was an explosion at the R.M. Palmer Co. candy factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania on Friday, and at least 4 people were killed.

There are basically two possibilities, a dust explosion, with sugar being the most likely source, or a gas explosion.

Given the violence of the explosion, I'm inclined to believe that it was a dust explosion,

For Profit Education, Huh?

Shannon May and Jay Kimmelman decided to set up a for-profit operation to run schools in Africa.

Their business model appeared to be:

  • Underpay teachers by about 60%.
  • Inflexible curriculum.
  • Poor vetting of teachers and lax management.
  • Break local laws. (They call it,"Disruption.")
  • Vociferous pursuit of critics, including what appears to be an attempt to inspire mob violence against them/

If this sounds a lot like charter schools in the United States, you would be right.

It appears to be collapsing into a morass of corruption and greed:

In the early days of the era of Silicon Valley disruption, two Harvard University graduates dreamed up a bold experiment in education.

Shannon May, who studied education development in rural China, and her husband, Jay Kimmelman, an education software developer, spied an untapped opportunity for some of the moving-fast-and-breaking-things going on all around them.

They call it disruption.  People with functioning senses of right and wrong call crimes.


Over the next decade, Bridge grew into a chain of schools providing a homogeneous curriculum developed by researchers in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to hundreds of thousands of students in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, and India. Today, it is the largest for-profit primary education chain in the world.

As the company mushroomed, it found ready investors. “It was not social impact investors,” May said in a 2016 MIT video case study, “it was straight commercial capital who saw, like, wow, there are a couple billion people who don’t have anyone selling them what they want.”

But the social impact investment crew was behind Bridge, as well. The company is financed today by some of the highest-profile do-good donors in the game — or rather, the for-profit arms of their networks, including Chan Zuckerberg Education, LLC, linked to Mark Zuckerberg; Pearson Education; Gates Frontier LLC, tied to Bill Gates; Imaginable Futures, linked to eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar, a major funder of The Intercept; and Pershing Square Foundation, tied to billionaire hedge fund mogul Bill Ackman. The United Kingdom’s development bank, the European Investment Bank, and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank funded it too.

To become profitable, May and Kimmelman had to scale up quickly while keeping costs down. “Bridge International Academies was founded from day one on the premise of this massive market opportunity, knowing that to achieve success, we would need to achieve a scale never before seen in education, and at a speed that makes most people dizzy,” an early version of the company’s website boasted. To do well with small margins, thousands of classrooms would be needed, because each classroom could bring in a profit of just tens of dollars a month. “The urgency is because the only way you can have a price of $5 a month is if you have hundreds of thousands of customers. We need 500,000 pupils to break even,” May said in 2013.

Their idea of how to accomplish such scale was straightforward: The largest cost when it comes to education is teacher salaries. But if curricula can be centrally produced and distributed on tablets that teachers read to the class, word for word, then teacher pay can plummet.

What they are saying here is that Africans are stupid, and they are worthless as teachers, so they can hire parrots instead of teachers.

That, May believed, would not hurt the quality of education children received. While the school reform movement in the United States at the time was fighting against what it called “the soft bigotry of low expectations” — easier curricula for minority students that reflected racist assumptions about their learning capacity — May argued that in Africa, high expectations are bigoted. “‘Don’t you have to have brilliant teachers in every room in order to have a well-educated child?’ ’Cause honestly, that’s how a wealthy person would think of it,” May explained. “You can’t have a brilliant-teacher hypothesis and expect to change the education for hundreds of millions of children.”

So, you are saying that second best is OK, because Africans are not real people who deserve the full rights and consideration as human beings.

Your business model is basically the Dredd Scott v. Sandford.

It was also appropriate to pay those teachers less, she argued. “You have to be able to upscale the teachers that would be available within the same community as your child. How are you going to get tens of thousands, eventually hundreds of thousands, of teachers to be working with hundreds of millions of impoverished children? They need to be from the same community. They need to face similar challenges. But also economically, they need to be part of the same economy.” Hiring teachers who are “part of the same economy” meant paying them just a few dollars a day.


In 2022, Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Kremer conducted a study in Kenya to assess the efficacy of standardized learning at Bridge schools. The resulting report, which Bridge heavily promotes, found that public school teachers in Kenya were paid between $235 to $392 per month plus generous benefits, while Bridge teachers worked longer hours but earned around $80 per month with considerably fewer benefits than their public school counterparts.

“By not requiring post-secondary credentials, which typically represent a smaller share of the labor force in lower-middle income countries, Bridge has been able to draw from a larger pool of secondary school graduates,” the study read.

So, a high school diploma enough, and no training because it's all in the software.  I'd never trust that to my car mechanic, much less someone teaching my children.


Bridge also whacked away at the second highest education costs: facilities. According to Kremer’s study, while public schools in Kenya were required to have stone, brick, or concrete walls, Bridge designed standardized schoolhouses largely out of wooden framing and mesh wire, enclosed by iron sheeting — derisively dubbed “chicken coops for kids.” “Bridge’s founders recognize that the model deprioritizes physical infrastructure and they have argued that this frees up resources for expenditure on other inputs that can improve school quality,” the Kremer study noted. “Bridge schools are not made of ‘mesh wire’; they have windows with mesh wire,” a Bridge spokesperson said.

So, poorly trained teachers, poor facilities, disdain for the students and staff, and a desire for rapacious profit.

If that ain't a recipe for bad education, I don't know what is.

“Our biggest challenge is that we need to ensure we standardize everything,” Kimmelman was quoted as saying in “Bridge International Academies: School in a Box,” a 2010 Harvard Business School case study. “If we want to be able to operate like McDonald’s we need to make sure that we systematize every process, every tool, everything we do.” They later revised it for branding purposes to “academy in a box,” May said, “when we realized everyone here calls a private school that’s good an academy.”

McDonald's?  Seriously?  And people thought it was making the world a better place?

I am sure that it made the world a better place for May and Kimmelman, who doubtless were well paid by venture capitalist cash.

Investors were familiar with the model: The company would understandably lose money in the early years, but as long as growth was steady, profitability could ultimately be reached. And, with enough scale, it might eventually loosen regulatory obstacles in the same way that ride-hailing app companies become too big for a city or state to do anything but accept them and adapt.

So, conspiracy to commit crimes, and once you are big enough, you are hoping to roll regulators and politicians, because criminality is at the heart of disruptor philosophy.


“Technically, we’re breaking the law,” May said in a 2013 article in the education publication Tes — a quote that was reused in a mostly favorable 2017 New York Times profile of Bridge. “There would be more people and more organizations willing to try and push the envelope and get higher pupil outcomes if the regulatory and legal framework was less restrictive,” May went on. “You have to be extreme. You have to take real risks to work in those environments. Often there are [laws] preventing most companies from trying to figure out how to solve these problems.”

Bridge quickly became the darlings of the Davos world. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim lauded the firm publicly in a 2015 speech. Whitney Tilson, a New York-based Bridge investor and hedge-fund manager, called it “the Tesla of education companies” in 2017.

What a surprise, an abusive and exploitative business model that gets rave reviews from the denizens of Davos.

Also, I can't believe that I am saying this, but that is unfair to Tesla. 

Cory Doctorow calls this ensh$#tification, and normally a business has to be around for a while, but they baked this in from the start.

That year, Times columnist Nicholas Kristof lavished nearly 1,000 words of praise on Bridge schools in the West African nation of Liberia, chastising teachers unions and other opponents of outsourcing public education abroad to for-profit companies. “So, a plea to my fellow progressives,” he concluded. “Let’s worry less about ideology and more about how to help kids learn.”

Nicholas Kristof, the former New York Times writer who has an almost perfect record of not understanding charity and inequality.

If that ain't a red flag, I don't know what is.


Then, in March 2022, the World Bank’s financing arm — the International Finance Corporation — quietly divested from NewGlobe, the parent company of Bridge International. No announcement was made. No reason was given. Just a short disclosure in small print at the bottom of a portal that reads, “Update: IFC has exited its investment in NewGlobe Schools, Inc.”

So, they discovered something.  Something bad. 

Not a surprise when you hire the worst people and put them in the worst facilities, and assume that you can do this with litter or no oversight.

Among locals and within the global network of civil society organizations that work on development projects, rumors swirled that the dark side of Bridge’s success may have played a role — specifically, a series of abuse and neglect allegations in Kenya that had caught the eye of a Nairobi-based human rights group, the East African Centre for Human Rights, or EACHRights, as well as the internal watchdog at the World Bank, known as the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman, or CAO.


During lunch break on a school day in the spring of 2016, David Nanzai, an eighth-grade teacher at Bridge Kwa Reuben, a school in the Mukuru informal settlements in Nairobi, found an anonymous handwritten note between the pages of a Kiswahili textbook sitting on his desk.


Eventually, they figured out who had written the note, and as they investigated further, they found at least 11 girls, aged 10 to 14, had been assaulted. They suspected three other girls may have been too frightened to come forward.

Reporting by The Intercept — including interviews with parents, former Bridge teachers and staff, nonprofit workers, community leaders, education activists, and police officers — corroborated the scope and many of the details of the sexual abuse. Many of the sources asked for confidentiality, expressing fear of reprisal from Bridge and concern about a culture of secrecy.

Of course they had a culture of secrecy.  That's Theranos, that's Silicon Valley in a nutshell.

Break laws and savagely enforce omerta.


Nanzai reported his findings to Josephine Ouko, his school’s academy manager, similar to a principal. Ouko, whom The Intercept was unable to reach for comment, called a staff meeting in her office with the alleged perpetrator in attendance. The other teachers confronted him, seething. Initially, he denied the allegations, according to four Bridge teachers present, but the teachers played audio recordings of Nanzai’s conversations with the students and shared their written testimonies.


After the meeting, the teachers expected Ouko, the academy manager, to notify Bridge and call the police. But Ouko told them to leave her office so she could speak to the teacher alone, the four teachers said. The next thing they knew, the man had disappeared into the maze of crowded dirt streets that make up the Mukuru informal settlements. He was gone.


Told that The Intercept had identified the alleged perpetrator by name, a Bridge spokesperson acknowledged the abuse had taken place and confirmed the former teacher’s identity. Asked why the company had previously dismissed our inquiry, the spokesperson said that the company thought we were referring to different allegations.

Different allegations?  Someone has been very remiss in their oversight.

And, in a letter from Bridge’s attorneys, the company added the threat of a lawsuit against The Intercept, citing the “potential for legal action” if the story was published. “The rare and isolated misconduct of a few bad apples should not tarnish the incredible work that these educators are doing in their communities every day,” read a letter from Andrew Philips, an attorney with Clare Locke LLP, positing that the problem was simply endemic in Kenya. It was, he wrote, “important to acknowledge the sad reality that sexual abuse of students by teachers has historically been a serious problem in Kenyan schools.”

First, the saying is that  "A few bad apples spoil the barrel."

Secondly, suggesting that you do not have to do proper oversight, because Kenya is, to quote Donald Trump, "A sh$#-hole country," is racist and dismissive.

The legal threat was a glimpse into the aggressive posture Bridge had become known for, a reputation that was forged in the global press amid its battle in Uganda with a Canadian graduate student named Curtis Riep.


On May 30, 2016, just weeks after the teachers and parents had reported the abusive teacher to the police in Nairobi, Curtis Riep sat down in a café in Kampala, Uganda. A Ph.D. candidate in educational policy studies at the University of Alberta, Riep was in the city compiling a report on Bridge schools for Education International, a global federation of teachers unions.

He had managed to schedule an interview with a Bridge national director and a regional manager. As the men began their conversation, Riep began recording, as he did for all such meetings, so that he could later transcribe the answers.

So Riep’s recorder was rolling when moments later, a plain-clothed police detective dressed in a suit — or, at least, a man identifying as one — and two self-proclaimed officers in militarized uniforms carrying assault-style weapons approached the table. Riep later transcribed the resulting exchange verbatim in his dissertation.

“I work with the police — the Uganda police,” the “detective” said to Riep after exchanging pleasantries with the executives. “I’m going to be taking you now.”


It would later emerge that Bridge officials in Uganda had accused Riep of gaining access to Bridge schools by impersonating a teacher.

“There’s a school where you went to,” the plain-clothed man claiming to be a police detective said, telling Riep he “must come with me now.”


None of the three men with guns would identify themselves, and Riep made one last bid to connect on a human level with the Bridge director. “Please, I don’t know if these are real police. I mean, I don’t want my life to be in jeopardy. So, if you feel like you really need to protect yourself and Bridge to this extent, I think it is a mistake. Let’s not make this more of an issue. You are the director of Bridge so obviously we can sort this out another way,” Riep pleaded. The director was silent.

“Can we get moving?” the detective asked.

“Sure, well it was nice to meet you and I think we will see each other again very soon,” Riep told the two Bridge executives, and then turned off his recorder.

He was escorted to an unmarked car, noting that the men bore a “striking resemblance” to the private security guards the Ugandan elite hire to protect their homes and businesses.

Inside the car was another man, who identified himself as an attorney for the government of Uganda, but whom Riep later told the press he learned was a lawyer working for Bridge. They passed the Kampala Central Police Station and kept driving for more than an hour and a half, arriving at a two-room, clapboard police station in Kyengera, home to a front office and a holding cell. Four media outlets waited outside, filming Riep’s arrival. Two Bridge officials held forth about the danger Riep represented to the community. Riep, in his dissertation, said that the station’s police were confused about why he was there, which raised further questions about who the men who had “arrested” Riep at the café were.

He was interrogated by the police for several hours and told that Bridge had taken out an advertisement in a major local paper a few days earlier, on May 24. The ad warned the public Riep was “wanted by the police,” underneath a photograph of his face.

Riep in his dissertation later described the ad as “a very risky proposition in a country with an upswing of violent mob justice happening in the streets of Kampala.”

They were trying to get him killed.

After being released on bond, Riep was required to return the next day for more questioning. Fortunately for him, he had consistently signed into logbooks at schools under his own name and affiliation, according to reporting by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and Bridge could produce no staff witnesses or other evidence to sufficiently back up the claim that he had impersonated Bridge personnel. The police dropped the charges, he later wrote, but they warned him that Bridge may “come after you again.”


The High Court in Uganda soon moved to shutter 63 Bridge schools on the basis that they were “operating illegally because they have no provisional or other licenses.” Bridge fought the order in court but lost, though it has continued fighting and has not closed its schools.

The Uber model.  Remember Uber does not do background checks either, and has had some horrifying incidents of assault.


Bridge had been battling a growing coalition of opponents for years, establishing a reputation as a sharp-elbowed company that responded aggressively to any hint of criticism.

In 2014, a Kenyan court ordered Bridge schools closed in one county for not complying with the minimum safety and accountability standards for educational institutions. When the county education board moved to enforce the court’s decision two years later, Bridge responded by suing the board and its director on the grounds that they had not followed the required process.


The investigation of the Bridge investment has become the center of a controversy at the World Bank over investor responsibility when it comes to “negative externalities” — the euphemistic term for damage that results from investments — and the nature of the accountability process inside the IFC, the World Bank’s financing arm.


Seven years after David Nanzai discovered the note on his desk, the case remains unresolved and officially unsolved, and the victims uncompensated. The teachers we spoke to for this story have all left Bridge schools. But the IFC is working on a new framework to deal with such “negative externalities.”

Translation, a few rapes is OK, because investors make money.


The Intercept also asked the IFC, Chan Zuckerberg, and the Gates and Omidyar funds what, if any, responsibility investors had to remedy the situation. “Any instance of harm to a child is unacceptable,” said a Chan Zuckerberg spokesperson. “We would refer you to the letter from Bridge Kenya on the practices it has in place to safeguard students and immediately investigate reports of any safety issues.”
A spokesperson for Omidyar’s Imaginable Futures said the fund owns a 2.7 percent stake in the company. “We refer you to the statement provided to you by Bridge Kenya,” the spokesperson said.


The company commissioned an education consultancy, Tunza, to evaluate its practices and policies. The report, published in 2020, found that public schools faced far greater rates of abuse than Bridge schools, though the methodology betrays an extraordinary confidence in Bridge’s reporting systems. For public schools, the study relies on anonymous surveys of students. For Bridge schools, the report largely relies on actual cases that were reported to higher-ups and investigated. The report, funded by Bridge, gently suggests that Bridge ought to, at some point, also survey its student body to find out if its assumption about nearly universal reporting through official channels is accurate.

The consultants were hired to obfuscate, not find the truth.  McKinsey & Company writ small.


Despite its efforts to address these issues, there have been other troubling cases at Bridge Kenya, both before and after the 2016 incident at Mukuru Kwa Reuben.

Court records show that in 2017, several prepubescent female students were sexually harassed by a teacher at another Bridge school in Mukuru. The teacher was arrested, and the case is still being adjudicated in court.

Because the efforts are window dressing. 

This is how foreign investment works in the third world.

It is abusive and exploitative because that is what the investors want, and so that is what the developed nations, and the constellation of civil society organizations deliver, because that is who signs their paychecks.

Unless and until some of the senior executives get tried, convicted, and imprisoned in those countries, this will continue, because everything else is just a cost of business.

I Cannot Tell if this is Serious or Not

Really, I have no clue as to whether this is satire or not.  I'd call it 60%—40% on the satire side,

I checked out their website and I am still not sure. 

I hate this, so you have to read this too.

Netanyahu Blinks

Following weeks of massive protests, Binyaman Netanyahu has delayed voting on a bill in the Knesset which would allow him to take over the judiciary.

There are a few reasons why this has engendered such vehement protests, Likud has stapled itself to the right wing, and Israelis who are not inclined to live a Neanderthal lifestyle fear the loss of protections, but the main reason, I think, is that this is such a blatantly corrupt attempt by Netanyahu to stay out of jail, because he is as guilty as hell of corruption.

The protests have been extensive, with over 70% of the population opposing these changes, and elements of the military, particularly in the reserves, openly opposing this move.

Netanyahu's attempts to maintain his power, and prevent his and his wife from going to jail knows no bounds.  He would destroy Israel in order to save himself.

I would argue that there has not been such a clear present danger to the existence of Israel since 1948, at least.*

One word is heard more often than any other on the streets of Jerusalem these days: democratia, or democracy.

About 100,000 people sang, shouted and banged pots and pans outside the Knesset building on Monday afternoon, many carrying Israel’s blue and white flag. The demonstrators were tired; some had been up all night.

But after three months of unrelenting public pressure, the biggest protest movement in Israeli history achieved its goal: the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, finally announced a halt to his far-right government’s judicial overhaul weakening the supreme court in a televised address on Monday evening.


While leftwing Israelis and Palestinians have levelled criticism at the movement for defending the supreme court, which plays a major role in upholding the occupation of the Palestinian territories, the mobilisation of huge swathes of what is usually a highly polarised society is nothing short of remarkable.

Demonstrations that began in central Tel Aviv on cold and rainy Saturday nights in January, just after the new government entered office, have evolved into a mass movement unlike anything Israel has seen before.

On Monday, the 12 weeks of sustained protest culminated in a general strike across the country that closed hospitals and nurseries and grounded flights at Tel Aviv’s airport.


The strikes followed a night of unprecedented protests sparked by Netanyahu’s decision to sack his defence minister for opposing the judicial plans, and they build on significant pushback against the government’s plans from the military, Israel’s vital hi-tech sector and allies in the US.


Proponents say the changes are needed to curb the powers of the supreme court, which plays an outsized checks-and-balances role in a country with no formal constitution and only one legislative chamber.

Proponents are medieval ultra-orthodox Jews who want to enforce their way of life on everyone in Israel.

They can no more be accommodated or  negotiated with than can the Talibaptists in the United States.

It is not lost on anyone that the proposals could help Netanyahu in his corruption trial, in which he denies all charges. Critics of the move say it will undermine democratic norms and the rule of law, allowing the far-right elements of Netanyahu’s coalition to press ahead with draconian measures limiting the rights of minorities, women and LGBTQ+ people.


Much of the Israeli public, jaded by the endless electoral cycle, did not see the threat from the far right coming. In office, Netanyahu’s partners have proved unpalatable to the majority of the country.

The Haredim already lead unproductive lives largely subsidized by the secular majority.  Now, they want to dictate the lives of the people who support them in the life-style that they have become accustomed to.

*Netanyahu is a clear and present danger to the State of Israel.

Please note that I am not calling him a רוֹדֵף (rodef), literally a pursuer, which would mean that we are required under Halacha (Jewish law) that a רוֹדֵף (rodef) be stopped by any means necessary, including lethal force.

It would be irresponsible for me to call him a רוֹדֵף (rodef).  It would be irresponsible for anyone to ANYONE a רוֹדֵף (rodef).

It is an explicit call for the murder of another individual.

Do not call him a רוֹדֵף (rodef). It is wrong to call him a רוֹדֵף (rodef), even if Netanyahu tacitly endorsed such statements against Yitzhak Rabin before his assassination by a religious extremist.

Also calling him עֲמָלֵק (Amalek) is right out.

27 March 2023

From the Land of the Guillotine

In 1958, at the prodding of Charles de Gaulle, the France's 5th Republic was established. (It could be argued that it was a coup)

It established what can be best described as an, "Elected Dictatorship," because de Gaulle despaired of French parliamentary politics, or as he put it, "How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?"

Generally, France's President has used this power with restraint, but after Macron invoked pension cut-backs by decree after it was clear that the National Assembly and Senate would not approve the bill, the country has erupted in protest:

It’d been hanging over France’s retirement reform fight from the beginning — a reminder that, come hell or high water, President Emmanuel Macron intended to have his way.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced that Macron’s government would “commit its responsibility” (the terse wording for decree in the French constitution’s Article 49, Section 3) to force adoption of a hike in the retirement age from sixty-two to sixty-four. Promptly filed on Friday, two motions of no confidence in response — the only way to reverse a so-called 49.3 —were struck down in the National Assembly on March 20. Enough MPs from the center-right Republicans, ostensibly an opposition party, opted to prop up Macron’s minority government.

Macron’s pension bill is now set to become law, barring a few scenarios like an appeal to the Constitutional Council and a possible referendum initiative to revoke the package. The government’s reform was officially about covering a budgeting hole and calming the supposedly wary financial markets, as Macron is said to have warned in the cabinet meeting last Thursday when the decision to force the legislation was finally made.

Unofficially, pulling off retirement reform had morphed into an obsession for the president, who came to view it as a silver bullet for reaffirming his authority at the start of his second term. The irony now is that Macron has fired the first shot in a political crisis that has left him increasingly isolated.

The 49.3 is one of the most brazen acts of executive privilege allowed by France’s top-heavy Fifth Republic — the political system established by Charles de Gaulle after he maneuvered back to power following a 1958 right-wing putsch. While in last June’s parliamentary elections Macron’s supporters remained the single largest bloc, they lost their majority of seats; already before last week’s pension decision, Borne had used this power to override parliament ten times before, on a string of budgeting bills.

But falling back on the 49.3 for a sensitive issue like pension reform means igniting a political powder keg. The president’s single-minded quest to force his desired reform — one rejected by an alliance of the country’s unions and whose economic justification has been criticized by the state’s own pension advisory body — is dangerously straining France’s governing institutions, astonishing the opposition and even some of the president’s allies.

Millions of people have taken to the street since mid-January, when the legislation was formally introduced and placed on a fast-track pathway to rush to adoption in fifty days. If it was not enough to bring the government to reconsider its package, the wave of strikes and protests has at least forced Macron into the embarrassing position of strong-arming his signature reform. It could end up turning into a Pyrrhic victory for the president.

And a powder keg it is. 

Pretty much the entire country is on a general strike, with (and this is the first time that I have ever heard of this) staff of the Louvre Museum blockading entrances in protest, in addition to road blockages, strikes by garbage collectors in Paris, transportation workers, refinery workers, students, teachers.

Basically it's pretty much everyone but the brutal and confrontational French riot police.

The right wing in the Parliament rallied to Macron's support, at least to the degree that Macron survived a no-confidence vote, but his actions, and particularly the unilateral nature of those actions, has led to protests unlike anything in my memory.

It's gotten dicey enough that a state visit by King Charles of the UK had to be postponed.

Certainly the optics, a state dinner at Versailles invokes Maria Antoinette's apocryphal, "Let them eat cake," quote, were absolutely atrocious.

In the, "This sh$# is getting real," department we had protesters setting fire to the Bordeaux city hall, which is rather more aggressive than the usual vandalism from the small number of assholes at French protests, who normally content themselves with smashing the windows of McDonald's Restaurants and the like.

As it stands, the French state security apparatus appears to continue to (brutally) support the regime, albeit with the condemnation of the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner.

I do not know if the French 5th Republic will survive this, but I hope not.  It is a truly awful way to govern a society.

Fuck Your Thoughts and Prayers

Another school shooting, this one at a private religious school, (Presbyterian) the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennesee.  There are 7 dead, 3 staff including the principal, 3 children, and the shooter who was shot by the police.

Doubtless, we will have numerous hypocrites saying, "Thoughts and prayers."  Fuck them.

If someone out there is considering a spree killing, please consider, 11250 Waples Mill Road Fairfax, VA 22030.  That is the headquarters for the National Rifle Association.  

Don't bring a gun though, bring toilet paper.  If 100,000 of us sh$# in their parking lot they it would be epic:

Here's what we know about Monday morning's mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville.

Three adults and three children are confirmed dead at the private Christian school in Nashville. The suspect was also killed, in an altercation with police.


Three children and three adult staff members are confirmed dead in the shooting. The victims identified by police are children Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney , all age 9, and adults Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61. Koonce was the Head of School.


Police identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who police killed at the scene. Hale was a former student at The Covenant School, according to police.

Hale was an illustrator and graphic designer who used he and him pronouns, according to a police spokesperson. Police initially identified Hale by his birth name and gender.

I believe that the news report is dead-naming Hale.  I think that he was using Aiden.

Seriously, fuck the NRA, fuck the American culture of violence, and fuck toxic masculinity, even if it was acquired later in life.

We are a nation of angry and murderous men.


Have some Llamas with hats. It starts strong, but gets a bit tedious at the end1

Are You a Bicyclist Who Envies Those Guys with Truck Nuts?

The similarty is remarkable

Like truck nuts, only for bikes

Now with blue balls

Said no one EVER!

These are bike nuts.

They actually call it, "Creative Silicone Bicycle Tail Lights," but it's bike nuts. 

If you examine the method of attachment closely, you might notice that these could also be used as an impromptu cock ring.

I just want to note that I have received no consideration of any sort for discussing this product.

If I had received a consideration, I would still consider these as stupid as hell, because they ARE as stupid as hell.

26 March 2023

Looting Much?

As Silicon Valley Bank moved toward an increasingly risky portfolio, senior executives scored increasingly remunerative pay packages.

It's almost like they gamed the system to reward themselves for destroying the bank.

It's EXACTLY like they gamed the system to reward themselves for destroying the bank.

Executive pay at Silicon Valley Bank soared after the bank embarked on a strategy to boost profitability by buying riskier assets exposed to rising interest rates, according to a Financial Times analysis of securities filings and people familiar with the matter.

The jump in pay for chief executive Greg Becker and chief financial officer Daniel Beck was a result of large multiyear bonus awards pegged to the bank’s return on equity (RoE), a key measure of profitability that rose sharply between 2017 and 2021, the filings show.

Becker’s cash bonus peaked at $3mn in 2021, more than double the amount he received four years earlier. Beck earned a $1.4mn bonus in 2021, more than four times the amount he received in 2017 after joining the company.

The higher bonuses helped push Becker’s total pay to $10mn in 2021, an increase of almost 60 per cent compared with four years earlier. Beck earned nearly $3.8mn, a jump of roughly double over the same time period.

Current and former SVB executives told the Financial Times that SVB boosted returns by buying long-term paper, especially mortgage bonds, that bolstered earnings because they generated higher yields. The strategy backfired when interest rates rose sharply and depressed the value of the bonds.

If you pay people for bad, short-sighted management, you get bad, short-sighted management.

In related news, the founder of First Republic Bank, and his relatives, receivied similarly inflated pay as they destroyed that bank:

First Republic Bank paid family members of its founder, James Herbert, millions of dollars for work at the lender in recent years, including for consulting services related to interest rates and risk, according to public disclosures the bank made as part of annual filings. 

The bank paid Mr. Herbert, who was chief executive before stepping into the executive chairman role last year, $17.8 million in 2021, the bank’s disclosures for that year said. The compensation was more than CEOs at most similar-sized banks.

A consulting company owned by Mr. Herbert’s brother-in-law earned $2.3 million for advisory work related to its “investment portfolio, risk management, interest rate and economic outlook and other financial matters” in 2021, it said in an annual proxy filing filed last spring. First Republic also paid Mr. Herbert’s son $3.5 million to oversee a lending unit at the bank, the disclosures said. The two family members were paid similar amounts in 2020.

First Republic, which was the country’s 14th largest bank measured by assets at the end of 2022, has been at the center of contagion fears in the U.S. banking system, with its stock down over 90% in the past three weeks. Known for catering to wealthy individuals, the bank has raced to stem a rush of depositors pulling funds amid concerns that First Republic has some similarities to now-failed Silicon Valley Bank.


Asked about the payments to Mr. Herbert’s son and brother-in-law, a spokesman said the bank has a policy for transactions with family members “and fully discloses such transactions each year.” He said executive compensation in 2021 reflects that the company “outperformed industry peers and the S&P 500 from 2016 to 2021, and delivered strong shareholder returns.”

These failures are not an artifact of incompetence.  They are not mistakes.

This is deliberate and sustained looting.

Lock them up.

Remember that I Mentioned Duetsche Bank

I'm not sure if the German mega-bank is in trouble, but there appear to be sufficient concern that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz felt compelled to dismiss any concerns about the bank.

This is not something that fills me with confidence:

Olaf Scholz has rejected comparisons between Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse as a slump in the German lender’s shares sparked a further day of turmoil for the banking sector.

Speaking after Deutsche shares fell as much as 14 per cent on Friday, Germany’s chancellor sought to shore up confidence in the country’s biggest bank, with investors still nervous after the forced takeover of Credit Suisse last weekend.

“Deutsche Bank has fundamentally modernised and reorganised its business and is a very profitable bank,” Scholz said at a summit in Brussels after being asked if the lender was the new Credit Suisse. “There is no reason to be concerned about it.”

No mention here of the repeated allegations, and settlements, involving allegations of sanctions violations, money laundering, etc. 

Experts are dismissing any risk to the bank, saying that the bank is, "The victim of an irrational market." 

Yeah, I believe this man, he's an expert:  (Not)

Deutsche Bank AG shares plunged the most in three years on Friday, suggesting that a week of soothing words from central bankers and politicians have failed to calm broad worries about the financial sector.

As observers tried to explain the move, analysts at Citigroup Inc. said it may be down to an “irrational market.” While that’s a concern in itself, even more worrying is the risk that negative views spiral out of control and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That threat was highlighted this week by Mark Branson, who heads Germany’s bank regulator BaFin. He told Bloomberg that while European banking is safe, one problem area is “contagion via psychology.”

Yeah, and the fact that the EU has inmiserated Greece and Italy to force austerity budgets that would bail out the Deutsche Bank has nothing to do with the recent crisis of confidence.

Pay no attention to €42,000,000,000,000.00 of dubious derivatives on their books.

They are digging in a pile of horse-sh$#, and expecting to find a pony.

It's All a Scam

I figure that it is time to loop back around to Sam Bankman-Fried, and his increasingly long list of fraud and theft. It has now been revealed that the disgraced former head of the FTX crypto exchange took $2.2 billion from the business before its collapse.

More than $2bn was transferred to Sam Bankman-Fried from FTX entities, according to bankruptcy court filings made by the new management of the cryptocurrency exchange on Wednesday night.

According to a press release describing financial statements filed with the bankruptcy court in Delaware, Bankman-Fried and five members of his inner circle transferred $3.2bn in total to their personal accounts in the form of “payments and loans”, the funds primarily coming from Alameda Research, a crypto trading hedge fund affiliated with FTX.

John Ray, the new chief executive of FTX appointed at the time of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in November, has been seeking to identify the location of cryptocurrency and other assets that can be eventually returned to the millions of FTX customers whose accounts have been frozen since its collapse.

Bankman-Fried is facing a dozen federal charges related to the collapse of FTX accusing him of securities fraud and looting the platform for personal gain. FTX’s management said on Wednesday the $3.2bn figure did not include $240mn for “luxury property in the Bahamas”, “political and charitable donations”, and “substantial transfers” to subsidiaries. Filings showed Bankman-Fried had received $2.2bn.

This is not a surprise.  SBF, as he is known, was clearly running robbing his customers blind.

This is not a surprise, but what is a surprise is that the people who dominate the philosophical fraud known as "Effective" Altruism, ignored warnings about SBF's fraud for years, largely because SBF was giving them a lot of money.

Quoting Upton Sinclair, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Leaders of the Effective Altruism movement were repeatedly warned beginning in 2018 that Sam Bankman-Fried was unethical, duplicitous, and negligent in his role as CEO of Alameda Research, the crypto trading firm that went on to play a critical role in what federal prosecutors now say was among the biggest financial frauds in U.S. history. They apparently dismissed those warnings, sources say, before taking tens of millions of dollars from Bankman-Fried’s charitable fund for effective altruist causes.

When Alameda and Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX imploded in late 2022, these same effective altruist (EA) leaders professed outrage and ignorance. “I don’t know which emotion is stronger: my utter rage at Sam (and others?) for causing such harm to so many people, or my sadness and self-hatred for falling for this deception,” tweeted Will MacAskill, the Oxford moral philosopher and intellectual figurehead of EA, who co-founded the Centre for Effective Altruism.

Yet MacAskill had long been aware of concerns around Bankman-Fried. He was personally cautioned about Bankman-Fried by at least three different people in a series of conversations in 2018 and 2019, according to interviews with four people familiar with those discussions and emails reviewed by TIME.

He wasn’t alone. Multiple EA leaders knew about the red flags surrounding Bankman-Fried by 2019, according to a TIME investigation based on contemporaneous documents and interviews with seven people familiar with the matter. Among the EA brain trust personally notified about Bankman-Fried’s questionable behavior and business ethics were Nick Beckstead, a moral philosopher who went on to lead Bankman-Fried’s philanthropic arm, the FTX Future Fund, and Holden Karnofsky, co-CEO of OpenPhilanthropy, a nonprofit organization that makes grants supporting EA causes. Some of the warnings were serious: sources say that MacAskill and Beckstead were repeatedly told that Bankman-Fried was untrustworthy, had inappropriate sexual relationships with subordinates, refused to implement standard business practices, and had been caught lying during his first months running Alameda, a crypto firm that was seeded by EA investors, staffed by EAs, and dedicating to making money that could be donated to EA causes.
More from TIME


It’s not entirely clear how EA leaders reacted to the warnings. Sources familiar with the discussions told TIME that the concerns were downplayed, rationalized as typical startup squabbles, or dismissed as “he said-she said,” as two people put it. EA leaders declined or did not respond to multiple requests from TIME to explain their reaction to these warnings and what they did in response. But by the end of 2018, Bankman-Fried’s behavior was such an open secret that EA leaders were debating Bankman-Fried’s presence on the board of the Centre for Effective Altruism. In emails among senior EA leaders, which TIME reviewed, one person wrote that they had raised worries about Bankman-Fried’s trustworthiness directly with MacAskill, and that MacAskill had dismissed the concerns as “rumor.” In 2019, Bankman-Fried left CEA’s board.


Why did the braintrust of a social movement dedicated to virtuous impact apparently fail to heed repeated warnings about one of their own, while continuing to promote him publicly as a force for good? For a group of philosophers who had spent their lives contemplating moral tradeoffs and weighing existential risks, the warnings about Bankman-Fried may have presented a choice between embracing a big donor with questionable ethics or foregoing millions of dollars they believed could boost their nascent movement to help save the future of humanity. In a span of less than nine months in 2022, Bankman-Fried’s FTX Future Fund—helmed by Beckstead—gave more than $160 million to effective altruist causes, including more than $33 million to organizations connected to MacAskill. “If [Bankman-Fried] wasn’t super wealthy, nobody would have given him another chance,” says one person who worked closely with MacAskill at an EA organization. “It’s greed for access to a bunch of money, but with a philosopher twist.”

You know, "Greed for access to a bunch of money, but with a philosopher twist," is a pretty summary for "Effective" Altruism, though I still prefer the description, "Prosperity gospel for agnostics."

It's all about the Benjamins.

25 March 2023

Good Point

I believe that I have noted on a few occasions, the US foreign policy establishment sees unconditional surrender as a precondition for negotiations. 

This has never been particularly effective, and will be even less effective as we move to a multi-polar world. 

It appears that I am not alone in this insight.  One hopes that it is not just limited to Daniel Larison and me:

State Department spokesman Ned Price answered a question on North Korea diplomacy today, and his answer unwittingly demonstrated the folly of the U.S. approach:
On your first question, it unfortunately is a purely hypothetical question. It’s an academic question, because we have been clear and consistent in conveying publicly and through all channels available to us that we are prepared and willing to engage in constructive diplomacy with the DPRK towards what is the goal we share with our allies and partners of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula [bold mine-DL]. And I say it’s hypothetical and academic because at every turn the DPRK has failed to engage meaningfully on these offers. But were that to be the case, were the DPRK to take us up on this, we would look to see if we could devise practical steps that could help to advance what is that longer-term objective of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The goal of the complete denuclearization of the peninsula is at odds with engaging in constructive diplomacy with North Korea. As long as this remains the goal of U.S. policy, there is not going to be constructive diplomacy. When “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” means nothing more than North Korea’s unilateral disarmament, North Korea isn’t going to “engage meaningfully” with a demand for its own capitulation. Of course North Korea has “failed to engage,” because they have no incentive to entertain the terms that the U.S. has set.

It should also be noted that the "Complete denuclearization of the peninsula," does nothing about the nuclear armed aircraft carriers and submarines around the Korean peninsula, so it is unilateral disarmament, i.e. capitulation, that is demanded as a precondition to negotiations.


The U.S. is the more powerful and secure state, and it has the luxury of taking the first step to revive negotiations if it wishes to negotiate. Because it is much more secure, the U.S. has greater flexibility and freedom of action than North Korea, and that means that the U.S. is in a position to break the current impasse. It cannot do that if it remains wedded to maximalism and coercive tactics. 

The US foreign policy "Blob" is a toxic mix of hubris, incompetence, and stupidity.