Month: November 2018

They Define Themselves by their Hate

At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, two women kissed, and the Talibaptists completely lost their sh%$:

Millions of small children just watched two girls kiss and had their innocence broken this morning. @nbc and @Macys just blindsided parents who expected this to be a family program, so they could push their agenda on little kids. #macysthanksgivingdayparade #MacysDayParade

— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) November 22, 2018

Seriously.  All these folks have is hate.

I really feel sorry for them.

This was a dance number from the Broadway play, “The Prom,” which is about a girl in Indiana who wasn’t allowed to bring her girlfriend to the prom.

Good for the producers of that musical, and for NBC, and bad on the haters.

The haters’ tears are sweet to me.

The dance number is below: (The kiss is at about 3:13_

Only In the United States

Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy – where customers can die if they can’t raise the goal in time – but sure, single payer healthcare is unreasonable.

h/t @DanRiffle

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 24, 2018

Yes, this a copy of a letter from an insurer that is asking someone to do a GoFundMe before they will approve a procedure.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is rightly horrified by this, and so should we all.

It’s Genocide

There are increasing (weak tea) concerns in the west over China’s treatment of its Uygur pupulation in the west of the country.

What they are not saying is that Beijing’s efforts in Xinjiang are an attempt to destroy them as a distinct people, which is by any definition genocide:

Few governments send ambassadors to China to be brave about human rights. Envoys to Beijing are scholars of realism, their fine minds applied to a delicate task: managing profitable relations with a deep-pocketed, unapologetic dictatorship.

It is, therefore, a big deal that at least 14 ambassadors from Western countries, led by Canada, have come together to confront China over its mass detentions of Muslims in the far-western region of Xinjiang, most of them ethnic Uighurs. Officials say the purpose is to stamp out extremism. In a letter leaked to Reuters, a news agency, the ambassadors have asked to meet Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party’s boss in Xinjiang. A hardliner transferred from Tibet, Mr Chen oversees a gulag into which perhaps a million Uighurs have been sent for “transformation-through-education”, many for indefinite periods without trial.

Millions more endure surveillance by facial-recognition cameras, smartphone scanners and police patrols at every turn. Some must host officials as houseguests, sent to assess their loyalties. China calls these measures vital after terrorist attacks carried out in recent years by Uighur fanatics.

This is genocide.

It is a deliberate and systematic attempt to destroy the Uighurs as a people.

Let me repeat:  This is genocide.

Another Free Market Failure

Pai’s FCC has doubled down on deregulation and tax cuts, and as a result investment in wireless infrastructure has declined.

It’s exactly the opposite of what one would expect from the world view of the free market mousketeers, but it is exactly what you would expect if you were dealing with monopolists working to maximize their profits:

You’ll recall that one of the top reasons for killing popular net neutrality rules was that it had somehow killed broadband industry investment. Of course, a wide array of publicly-available data easily disproves this claim, but that didn’t stop FCC boss Ajit Pai and ISPs from repeating it (and in some cases lying before Congress about it) anyway. We were told, more times that we could count, that with net neutrality dead, sector investment would spike.

You’ll be shocked to learn this purported boon in investment isn’t happening.

A few weeks ago, Verizon made it clear its CAPEX would be declining, and the company’s deployment would see no impact despite billions in tax cuts and regulatory favors by the Trump FCC. Trump’s “tax reform” alone netted Verizon an estimated $3.5 billion to $4 billion. A recent FCC policy order, purporting to speed up 5G wireless deployment (in part by eliminating local authority over negotiations with carriers), netted Verizon another estimated $2 billion. And that’s before you even get to the potential revenue boost thanks to the repeal of net neutrality and elimination of broadband privacy rules.

Ironically, Verizon’s dip in CAPEX came right on the heels of the wireless industry and Ajit Pai, in perfectly coordinated unison, trying to claim that a CAPEX rise in 2017 was directly due to the repeal of net neutrality. They ignored an important point however: net neutrality wasn’t even repealed until June of this year. If this endless roster of favors was to impact network investment, accelerate network deployment, and unleash a magical wave of “innovation,” that should all be happening right now. And yet, the opposite is happening. And of course it’s not just Verizon. AT&T and Sprint are also reducing overall CAPEX:

This is no surprise.

Monopolists spend their money extracting rents and buying politicians, not on improving their products.


Megyn Kelly’s worst nightmare:

Forfeit their Assets and Throw them in Jail

It looks like the family that pushed Oxycontin on the world is looking well-deserved at civil and criminal exposure:

Members of the multibillionaire philanthropic Sackler family that owns the maker of prescription painkiller OxyContin are facing mass litigation and likely criminal investigation over the opioids crisis still ravaging America.

Some of the Sacklers wholly own Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, the company that created and sells the legal narcotic OxyContin, a drug at the center of the opioid epidemic that now kills almost 200 people a day across the US.

Suffolk county on Long Island, New York, recently sued several family members personally over the overdose deaths and painkiller addiction blighting local communities. Now lawyers warn that action will be a catalyst for hundreds of other US cities, counties and states to follow suit.

At the same time, prosecutors in Connecticut and New York are understood to be considering criminal fraud and racketeering charges against leading family members over the way OxyContin has allegedly been dangerously overprescribed and deceptively marketed to doctors and the public over the years, legal sources told the Guardian last week.

“This is essentially a crime family … drug dealers in nice suits and dresses,” said Paul Hanly, a New York city lawyer who represents Suffolk county and is also a lead attorney in a huge civil action playing out in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, involving opioid manufacturers and distributors.


The Sackler name is prominently attached to prestigious cultural and academic institutions that have accepted millions donated by the family in the US and the UK. It is now inscribed on a lawsuit alleging members of the family “actively participated in conspiracy and fraud to portray the prescription painkiller as non-addictive, even though they knew it was dangerously addictive”.


Now Hanly and other high-profile lawyers working on opioid litigation expect the family members to be sued by name as part of the multi-district litigation in Ohio. In federal court, lawsuits filed by more than 1,200 cities, counties and municipalities across the US, against Purdue and other corporate defendants, have been brought together in the hands of federal judge Dan Polster.


“They’ve been hiding behind a corporate structure and it’s high time they paid a price,” he said.

Yes, it’s high time.

I’d like to see them sharing cells with Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, James Goreman, James Cayne, Dick Fuld, and Josef Ackermann, but my guess that all of them will stay free and rich.

Ethics, Schmethics, the Story of Facebook

It turns out that, at least until it gets press coverage, Facebook is cool with allowing a child bride to be auctioned off on its site, because they really don’t give a f%$#:

Facebook failed to prevent its platform being used to auction a 16-year-old girl off for marriage in South Sudan.

Child early and forced marriage (CEFM) is the most commonly reported form of gender-based violence in South Sudan, according to a recent Plan International report on the myriad risks for adolescent girls living in the war-torn region.

Now it seems girls in that part of the world have to worry about social media too.

Vice reported on the story in detail yesterday, noting that Facebook took down the auction post but not until after the girl had already been married off — and more than two weeks after the family first announced the attention to sell the child via its platform, on October 25.

Facebook said it first learned about the auction post on November 9, after which it says it took it down within 24 hours. It’s not clear how many hours out of the 24 it took Facebook to take the decision to remove the post.

A multimillionaire businessman from South Sudan’s capital city reportedly won the auction after offering a record “price” — of 530 cows, three Land Cruiser V8 cars and $10,000 — to marry the child, Nyalong Ngong Deng Jalang.


The more than two-week delay between the auction post going live and the auction post being removed by Facebook raises serious questions about its claims to have made substantial investments in improving its moderation processes.

Human rights groups had directly tried to flag the post to Facebook. The auction had also reportedly attracted heavy local media attention. Yet it still failed to notice and act until weeks later — by which time it was too late because the girl had been sold and married off.

This is a feature of the monster that Mark Zuckereberg created, not a bug.

Your Mouth to God’s Ear

There has been a ruling involving a small French advertising firm which could completely reshape online advertising.

Basically, the court ruled that consent to collect information could not be passed onto third parties though a contract under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations.

If this stands, it will completely reshape internet advertising, IMNSHO for the better:

A ruling in late October against a little-known French adtech firm that popped up on the national data watchdog’s website earlier this month is causing ripples of excitement to run through privacy watchers in Europe who believe it signals the beginning of the end for creepy online ads.

The excitement is palpable.

Impressively so, given the dry CNIL decision against mobile “demand side platform” Vectaury was only published in the regulator’s native dense French legalese.

Here is the bombshell though: Consent through the @IABEurope framework is inherently invalid. Not because of a technical detail. Not because of an implementation aspect that could be fixed. No.
You cannot pass consent to another controller through a contractual relationship. BOOM

— Robin Berjon (@robinberjon) November 16, 2018


In plainer English, this is being interpreted by data experts as the regulator stating that consent to processing personal data cannot be gained through a framework arrangement which bundles a number of uses behind a single “I agree” button that, when clicked, passes consent to partners via a contractual relationship.


The firm was harvesting a bunch of personal data (including people’s location and device IDs) on its partners’ mobile users via an SDK embedded in their apps, and receiving bids for these users’ eyeballs via another standard piece of the programmatic advertising pipe — ad exchanges and supply side platforms — which also get passed personal data so they can broadcast it widely via the online ad world’s real-time bidding (RTB) system. That’s to solicit potential advertisers’ bids for the attention of the individual app user… The wider the personal data gets spread, the more potential ad bids.

That scale is how programmatic works. It also looks horrible from a GDPR “privacy by design and default” standpoint.

This cuts to the core of the current advertising model, and Google and Facebook’s current dominance of online advertising.

It should get very interesting.

What it Looks Like When You Have a Petulant Child Running Your Country

The path of the proposed canal

I do not a reason for this canal beyond spite

No, this is not another Trump story, this about how Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (MBS) is literally planning to cut Bahrain off from the rest of the Arabian peninsula:

The Saudi government appears to be close to announcing the winner of a tender to dig a canal along the border with Qatar, effectively transforming the peninsula nation into an island.

The tender process for the ambitious project to dig a 60-kilometre navigable canal closed on June 25 with Saudi media reporting at the time that the results would be announced in September.

A senior government official signalled on Friday that the final approvals for the project may be in the works.

“I am eagerly awaiting details on the implementation of the Salwa island project, a great, historic project that will change the geography of the region,” Saud Al Qahtani, a senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said on Twitter.

Seriously, there is no justification for this canal beyond isolating Qatar. 

A boat from Bahrain to Abu Dabi around the peninsula is 275 miles, through the canal it is over 300 miles, and the House of Saud is planning to put a nuclear waste dump on the Qatar side of the canal.

Even by the standards of the medieval and inbred descendents of Ibn Saud, this MBS is a train wreck.

Signs of an Upcoming Fiasco

As if Theresa May’s truly horrible Brexit deal were not bad enough, it appears that May’s weakness, even pro-Brexit forces imploding, has emboldened Spain, which is considering reasserting its claim to Gibraltar:

The Spanish government has threatened to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal over the issue of Gibraltar, demanding that last-minute changes be made to the text ahead of a crunch summit.

The country’s foreign minister said Spain would not back the proposals at the European Council unless it received assurances that the agreement would not apply to Gibraltar.

But Downing Street said it would not exempt Gibraltar or any other British territory from the agreement – putting the two governments on a collision course ahead of the meeting this weekend.

“The negotiations between Britain and the EU have a territorial scope that does not include Gibraltar, the negotiations on the future of Gibraltar are separate discussions,” Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell said on Monday morning in Brussels.

“This is what needs to made clear, and until it is clarified in the withdrawal agreement and in the political declaration on the future relationship, we cannot give our backing.”

Spain has long resented Britain’s claims on Gibraltar, a British overseas territory that is home to around 30,000 people, and has previously threatened to use Brexit to wrest concessions on the issue.

This a sign of just how weak the British position is.

There is no good ending for this for London.

This is a Change in Rhetoric, not a Change in Policy

You have likely heard about Donald Trump’s embrace of the House in response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

I believe that it is a contemptible statement, but that it does not constitute a change in policy.

The White House has had its tongue so far up the Saudi ass that it’s been tasting tonsils for over 20 years.

Barack Obama is the one who initially gave the full throated support of the Saudi brutal war on Yemen.

The Bush (II) administration aggressively suppressed connections between the House of Saud and the 911 hijackers.

Clinton bent over backwards to avoid facing the fact that, as became clear after things like the Khobar Towers bombing, that the Saudi state security apparatus was hopelessly compromised.

And then there’s Bush (I) who considered Prince Bandar bin Sultan to almost be a member of his family.

Trump’s behavior is completely within the mainstream of the past 35+ years of American foreign policy.

The only difference is that Trump is too stupid, and too impulsive, not to lie about it.

This Will Never be Adopted

Researchers have made some remarkable progress on artificial “noses” that could replace the use of dogs.

I do not believe that any element of the state security apparatus in the United States, because this is the last thing that they want.

Instead, they want Clever Hans,* which is to say an animal that they can cue in a subtle manner in order to confirm their own biases.

When a cop pulls over someone for driving while black, the last thing that he wants is a device which will provide a fair and unbiased review of the evidence, said peace officer just wants to bust an, “uppity n****r.”

*Wikipedia has the skinny on the horse, “Clever Hans (in German: der Kluge Hans) was an Orlov Trotter horse that was claimed to have performed arithmetic and other intellectual tasks.” The horse was actually reading the body language of his trainer without his knowledge.

How Can the Most Reviled Companies in America Maintain their Crown?

Why, by claiming that bigotry is covered by their first amendment corporate rights, of course.

Seriously, these are so toxic that Andrew Cuomo should be offering them multi-billion dollar subsidies.

Yes, I am talking about the big cable companies:

A US appeals court ruling today said that cable companies do not have a First Amendment right to discriminate against minority-run TV channels.

Charter, the second-largest US cable company after Comcast, was sued in January 2016 by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN), which alleged that Charter violated the Civil Rights Act of 1866 by refusing to carry TV channels run by the African-American-owned ESN. Allen, a comedian and producer, founded ESN in 1993 and is its CEO; the lawsuit seeks more than $10 billion in damages from Charter.

Charter argued that the case should be dismissed, claiming that the First Amendment bars such claims because cable companies are allowed “editorial discretion.” But Charter’s motion to dismiss the case was denied by the US District Court for the Central District of California, and the District Court’s denial was upheld unanimously today by a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

UPDATE: The appeals court also ruled against Comcast in a similar civil rights case in which ESN seeks more than $20 billion. Comcast had argued in a brief that “the First Amendment prohibits plaintiffs from suing to alter Comcast’s selection of a programming lineup.” But today’s ruling allows ESN’s lawsuit against Comcast to proceed as well.


Charter argued that ESN’s “claim is barred by the First Amendment because laws of general applicability cannot be used ‘to force cable companies to accept channels they do not wish to carry,'” the appeals court panel noted.

But while cable companies do have some First Amendment speech protections, they are not free to discriminate based on race, the panel said. Section 1981 of US law, which guarantees equal rights in making and enforcing contracts, “does not seek to regulate the content of Charter’s conduct, but only the manner in which it reaches its editorial decisions—which is to say, free of discriminatory intent,” the judges wrote.

“Section 1981 prohibits Charter from discriminating against networks on the basis of race,” judges also wrote. “This prohibition has no connection to the viewpoint or content of any channel that Charter chooses or declines to carry.”


The appeals court ruling summarized some of the claims made against Charter:

In addition to recounting Entertainment Studios’ failed negotiations with Charter, Plaintiffs’ amended complaint also included direct evidence of racial bias. In one instance, [Charter VP of programming Allan] Singer allegedly approached an African-American protest group outside Charter’s headquarters, told them “to get off of welfare,” and accused them of looking for a “handout.” Plaintiffs asserted that, after informing Charter of these allegations, it announced that Singer was leaving the company. In another alleged instance, Entertainment Studios’ owner, Allen, attempted to talk with Charter’s CEO, [Tom] Rutledge, at an industry event; Rutledge refused to engage, referring to Allen as “Boy” and telling Allen that he needed to change his behavior. Plaintiffs suggested that these incidents were illustrative of Charter’s institutional racism, noting also that the cable operator had historically refused to carry African-American-owned channels and, prior to its merger with Time Warner Cable, had a board of directors composed only of white men. The amended complaint further alleged that Charter’s recently pronounced commitments to diversity were merely illusory efforts to placate the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

You do have to admire the cable companies’ “Purity of Essence” here.

Not Enough Bullets………

After running a former icon of American retail into the ground, Sears executives are seeking to secure for themselves about $25 million in bonuses, even though the company is in bankruptcy:

Sears is seeking court approval to pay executives as much as $25 million in annual bonuses while the company struggles to restructure in bankruptcy.

Three top executives could get nearly $1 million each if the company goes out of business. If Sears remains in business, they could get nearly $500,000 each for hitting the top performance targets.

Sears filed two different types of bonus plans in bankruptcy court Thursday. The first is for the top 18 “key” executives, who would collectively get as much as $2.1 million per quarter up to a maximum of $8.5 million. The bonuses would only be paid in full if Sears reaches its cash-flow targets. Sears Holdings, which includes both Sears and Kmart, has been burning through cash at a rate of about $125 million a month.

A second retention bonus plan was designed to encourage 322 other unnamed executives to stay put during Sears’ reorganization. They would collectively get $16.9 million over the course of a year, which works out to an average of about $52,000 annually per executive. No executive could receive more the $150,000 in bonuses for staying with the company during the bankruptcy process.

Seriously:  These folks are all likely subject to non-compete agreements, but still they are going to get millions of dollars.

It’s, “Heads I win, tails you lose,” capitalism, and it needs to stop.

Another Reason to Love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

She has just announced her support for Justice Democrats, a group dedicated to primarying corporatist tools in the Democratic Party:

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday threw her weight behind a new national campaign to mount primaries against incumbent Democrats deemed to be ideologically and demographically out of step with their districts.

The incoming star congresswoman from New York again put the Democratic establishment on notice that she and activist groups on the left aren’t content with a Democratic-controlled House: They are determined to move the party to the left.

“Long story short, I need you to run for office,” Ocasio-Cortez said Saturday on a video conference call hosted by Justice Democrats, as the group launched a campaign dubbed “#OurTime.” Justice Democrats supported Ocasio-Cortez’s primary campaign against powerful Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.).

“All Americans know money in politics is a huge problem, but unfortunately the way that we fix it is by demanding that our incumbents give it up or by running fierce campaigns ourselves,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “That’s really what we need to do to save this country. That’s just what it is.”

The incoming congresswoman’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, a co-founder of Justice Democrats, was blunter.

“We need new leaders, period,” he said on the call. “We gotta primary folks.”

The group said it wants Democratic members of Congress to be representative of their diverse communities and support liberal policies like “Medicare for all,” abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, implementing a “Green New Deal” and rejecting corporate PAC donations. On the campaign trail, Ocasio-Cortez talked about forming a “corporate-free caucus” as a means to push for reform. That type of group, if it forms, could turn out to be the left’s counterpart to the Freedom Caucus, which pushed Republican leadership to the right.

“I don’t think people who are taking money from oil and gas companies should be drafting climate legislation,” Ocasio-Cortez said on the call.

Good for her.

The Democratic Party establishment needs to learn to fear their base.

Right now, they just loath their base.

There’s the Bad Day at the Office, the Terrible Day at the Office, the Apocalyptic Day at the Office, and then There’s………

And then there is waking up in the morning, and not only do you realize that you are running the Cleveland Browns, but you discover that you have to deny that you are interviewing Condoleeza “130,000 Ton Dead Weight” Rice to be your next football coach:

Condoleezza Rice and Cleveland Browns General Manager John Dorsey shot down the day’s most surprising NFL report, that the team wanted to make the former U.S. Secretary of State and national security adviser the first woman to interview for a head coaching position.

Rice, a lifelong Browns fan, used the buzz generated by the report, from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, to call for an increase in the number of women in the coaching ranks. “I love my Browns — and I know they will hire an experienced coach to take us to the next level,” she wrote (via the Associated Press).

“On a more serious note, I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches. One doesn’t have to play the game to understand it and motivate players. But experience counts — and it is time to develop a pool of experienced women coaches.

“BTW, I’m not ready to coach, but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas! And at no time will I call for a ‘prevent defense’!”

Dorsey added that Rice “has not been discussed” as a candidate to succeed Hue Jackson.

 This has to be the most thankless job on the face of the earth.

I Don’t Get It

The Canadian curling gold medalist was just ejected from a competition for excessive drunkenness.

Ummmm……What could possibly posses someone do curling sober?

A Canadian curling team that includes an Olympic gold medalist was ejected from a curling event in Alberta on Sunday for being “extremely drunk,” breaking brooms and swearing.

Ryan Fry, Jamie Koe, Chris Schille and DJ Kidby were kicked out of the Red Deer Curling Classic, according to the CBC, and forfeited their final match. The event is part of the World Curling Tour.