Month: March 2020

They are Keeping Sailors Confined to a Plague Ship

It’s the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and its skipper is begging for its crew to be put ashore because of a Covid-19 outbreak:

The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.

The unusual plea from Capt. Brett Crozier, a Santa Rosa native, came in a letter obtained exclusively by The Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which has been docked in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000 less than a week ago.

“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

In the four-page letter to senior military officials, Crozier said only a small contingent of infected sailors have been off-boarded. Most of the crew remain aboard the ship, where following official guidelines for 14-day quarantines and social distancing is impossible.


Mark Cancian, a Marine colonel who served for 37 years before retiring, said that “the Navy has got to figure out how to do this right or else they can’t deploy the rest of the fleet. 


The FBI Does Not Care About Your Civil Rights

There is good news and bad news in response to accusations that the FBI abused its authority in getting a FISA warrant in the Carter Page investigation.

The good news is that the FBI engaged in a completely routine investigation in this case.

The bad news is that this every one of the 29 investigation was defective:

A Justice Department audit of the FBI’s use of secret surveillance warrants has found widespread problems with the law enforcement agency’s process for ensuring that facts are backing up the claims made to judges when seeking a warrant.

The finding of broader failings in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act program came in a review launched by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz after an earlier inquiry found numerous errors in applications to monitor former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. In a bid to assess whether the faults in the Page’s surveillance process were an aberration or a chronic problem, Horowitz’s audit team zeroed in on 29 applications for surveillance of U.S. citizens or green-card holders over a five-year period.

Horowitz found an average of 20 errors in each of the applications.

The systemic failures in the FBI’s FISA process are sure to animate allies of President Donald Trump who have claimed that the surveillance tool was weaponized against the president’s campaign in 2016. But the findings also bolster arguments by critics of that claim who have suggested that errors in the Page application were likelier attributable to systemic sloppiness than sinister intentions.

For each of the 29 applications, Horowitz’s team reviewed whether the “Woods procedures” for justifying an application were properly followed.

“We do not have confidence that the FBI has executed its Woods Procedures in compliance with FBI policy, or that the process is working as it was intended to help achieve the ‘scrupulously accurate’ standard for FISA applications,” Horowitz wrote in “a management advisory” addressed to FBI Director Chris Wray.

It should be noted that I am pretty sure that the FBI considers this is a feature, and not a bug.

Having a compliant court that allows the FBI to get bullsh%$ warrant requests approved was always the goal of the FISA program.

Of Course She Is

Nancy Pelosi has a plan for additional stimulus, and the details, that it will only put meaningful money in the pockets of people who make significantly more than $100,000.00 a year should surprise no one:

As lawmakers prepare for another round of fiscal stimulus to address economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the next package include a retroactive rollback of a tax change that hurt high earners in states like New York and California.

A full rollback of the limit on the state and local tax deduction, or SALT, would provide a quick cash infusion in the form of increased tax rebates to an estimated 13 million American households — nearly all of which earn at least $100,000 a year.


The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated last year that a full repeal of the SALT limit for 2019 alone would reduce federal revenues by about $77 billion. Americans earning $1 million a year or more would collectively reap $40 billion of those benefits. Most of the rest would go to households earning $200,000 or more.

Well, we now know who her REAL constituency is.

As an aside, this change is literally the least bang for the buck possible as a stimulus, but it does appeal to overpaid pundits living in places like DC, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and I guess that this is all that matters to her.

God, It’s Me, Matthew, Could You Smite These Motherf%$#ers?

The religious nutjobs setting up a tent hospital in central park are requiring anyone who volunteers for service sign an agreement to discriminate against the LGBT community:

On Tuesday morning, a makeshift tent hospital in Central Park will begin treating overflow patients from Mount Sinai, as the spread of COVID-19 begins to overwhelm local hospitals. Announcing the 68-bed respiratory unit this weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, responsible for funding and erecting the facility.

The mayor did not mention that the group is led by Franklin Graham, a notorious anti-LGBTQ and Islamophobic preacher with a track record of using humanitarian missions to proselytize an evangelical agenda.

Graham, the son of prominent minister Billy Graham, has specifically sought to recruit Christian medical staff to the Central Park facility. According to the group’s website, all volunteers, including health care workers, should read and adhere to a statement of faith, in which marriage is defined as “exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female” and the unrighteous are sentenced to “everlasting punishment in hell.”


Samaritan’s Purse, which holds a reported $650 million in net assets, has a lengthy history of using disaster aid to spread their agenda. A campaign known as Operation Christmas Child, which delivers gift boxes to children in Muslim countries, has been criticized as a conversion scheme.

Seriously, Hashem, you smote the Israelites for conducting a census in an sloppy manner. 

Smite Franklin Graham.  It’s long overdue.

Adding a Body Part to My List of They Who Must Not Be Named

In what must be a first, I feel compelled to add New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Nipples to my list of They Who Must Not Be Named.

It appears that in a couple of pix with him in a polo shirt, it looked like he might have had nipple piercings.

I do not know. I don’t WANT to know:

Every day, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo holds a press conference to update the public amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic ravaging his state. After speaking, he takes questions from journalists about ventilators, social distancing, and when this whole thing might be over. All things the public desperately needs to know, sure, but on Monday the internet had another question: Does our governor have a nipple piercing?

Call it the delusionary effects of staying inside for three weeks or another sign of our unmitigated, isolation-induced horniness: Some on Twitter and Reddit are convinced they can see the outline of jewelry hanging from Cuomo’s chest. The rumor began over the weekend, sparked by the white “State of Emergency” polo he’s taken to wearing.

“Is it just me or is Cuomo’s nipple totally pierced?” questioned a Reddit thread. “If it is I like him even more,” one replied. “Don’t kink-shame this hero,” another scolded.

Please, just make this stop.

Don’t Use Zoom

Ever wondered how the @zoom_us macOS installer does it’s job without you ever clicking install? Turns out they (ab)use preinstallation scripts, manually unpack the app using a bundled 7zip and install it to /Applications if the current user is in the admin group (no root needed).

— Felix (@c1truz_) March 30, 2020

We now have news of a litany of privacy breaches and misrepresentations of its capabilities.

Given their history, the logical conslusion is that they have violating their users’ private as a central part of their business model:

Zoom, the video conferencing service whose use has spiked amid the Covid-19 pandemic, claims to implement end-to-end encryption, widely understood as the most private form of internet communication, protecting conversations from all outside parties. In fact, Zoom is using its own definition of the term, one that lets Zoom itself access unencrypted video and audio from meetings.

With millions of people around the world working from home in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, business is booming for Zoom, bringing more attention on the company and its privacy practices, including a policy, later updated, that seemed to give the company permission to mine messages and files shared during meetings for the purpose of ad targeting.

Still, Zoom offers reliability, ease of use, and at least one very important security assurance: As long as you make sure everyone in a Zoom meeting connects using “computer audio” instead of calling in on a phone, the meeting is secured with end-to-end encryption, at least according to Zoom’s website, its security white paper, and the user interface within the app. But despite this misleading marketing, the service actually does not support end-to-end encryption for video and audio content, at least as the term is commonly understood. Instead it offers what is usually called transport encryption, explained further below.


But when reached for comment about whether video meetings are actually end-to-end encrypted, a Zoom spokesperson wrote, “Currently, it is not possible to enable E2E encryption for Zoom video meetings. Zoom video meetings use a combination of TCP and UDP. TCP connections are made using TLS and UDP connections are encrypted with AES using a key negotiated over a TLS connection.”

The encryption that Zoom uses to protect meetings is TLS, the same technology that web servers use to secure HTTPS websites. This means that the connection between the Zoom app running on a user’s computer or phone and Zoom’s server is encrypted in the same way the connection between your web browser and this article (on is encrypted. This is known as transport encryption, which is different from end-to-end encryption because the Zoom service itself can access the unencrypted video and audio content of Zoom meetings. So when you have a Zoom meeting, the video and audio content will stay private from anyone spying on your Wi-Fi, but it won’t stay private from the company. (In a statement, Zoom said it does not directly access, mine, or sell user data; more below.)


“They’re a little bit fuzzy about what’s end-to-end encrypted,” Green said of Zoom. “I think they’re doing this in a slightly dishonest way. It would be nice if they just came clean.”


Without end-to-end encryption, Zoom has the technical ability to spy on private video meetings and could be compelled to hand over recordings of meetings to governments or law enforcement in response to legal requests. While other companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft publish transparency reports that describe exactly how many government requests for user data they receive from which countries and how many of those they comply with, Zoom does not publish a transparency report. On March 18, human rights group Access Now published an open letter calling on Zoom to release a transparency report to help users understand what the company is doing to protect their data.

Not just a subpoena.  If you bribe a Zoom employee, you could get access to the chat.

Also, Zoom has been found to be sharing user data with Facebook, even if you are not a member, refused to fix a remote access vulnerability until reported to the FTC, allowing meeting hosts to spy on user’s window status on their PCs, and collects personally identifiable data and links it to your IP address.

This is not a company that you want to deal with.

Go to Tallahassee, Protest, and Lick F%$#ing Door Knobs!!!

This is my suggestion for the good citizens of the State of Florida.

The door knobs in question are on the state house and the governor’s mansion.

For those of you who are not aware, the Honorable Ron DeSantis, has decided that instead of addressing problems with a state full of senior citizens with common sense measures to reduce the spread of the disease, he is looking to blame out of state folks.

Seriously, go to Tallahassee, and bring your salivary glands.

Monopoly Power

Corey Docterow has a twitter thread about how anemic monopoly enforcement may result in many thousands of deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic.

40 years ago, a fabulist named Robert Bork dreamed up an imaginary history of US antitrust law in order to justify dismantling it.


— Bernie Beats Trump (@doctorow) March 29, 2020

You can follow the whole thing, but the short version is that the US government funded a small company to make an inexpensive and portable ventilators, and as they were getting near to a product, Covidien (now Medtronic) purchased the company and shut down the program because they did not want it to compete with its more expensive ventilators.

Robert Bork’s theory was that, “monopolies are only a problem when they raise prices in the short/medium term.”

We are now literally choking on Robert Bork’s dishonesty.

May Robert Bork’s perfidious work be effaced.

Docterow’s full twitter thread below:

Why I Disdain “Woke Culture”

Because more often than not, I see it used an an excuse for egregious behavior, such as the case of debt collectors demanding that there be no suspension of debt collection because, “Women make up 70 percent of the total debt collection workforce and 40 percent is ethnically diverse.”

All too often it seems to be an excuse for saying or doing something contemptible:

Debt collectors, facing growing demands to freeze the collection of debt across the country amid the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, are mobilizing their lobbyists to push back.


All of this has the industry deeply concerned. The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, also known as ACA International, a lobby group for debt collectors, has fired off letters to Brown and federal officials, sharply criticizing the push to suspend debt collection.


Mark Neeb, the chief executive of ACA International, wrote that he is concerned that “certain lawmakers have suggested that eliminating the work of the ARM Industry is a prudent action that should be taken in response to the coronavirus,” a reference to the accounts receivable management industry, a term of art for debt collectors. Women, Neeb wrote, “make up 70 percent of the total debt collection workforce and 40 percent is ethnically diverse.” Shutting down debt collection during the crisis, Neeb argued, would negatively “impact the diverse workforce that makes up the collection industry” and “many of these employees and businesses would face extreme hardship.”

This is completely beneath contempt.

Never Let an Opportunity for Looting Pass

In this case, the disposable plastic bag industry is trying to use the Covid-19 pandemic to overturn plastic bag bans, because, if you are going to die anyway, why not make sure that the rest of the world resembles a landfill:

They are “petri dishes for bacteria and carriers of harmful pathogens,” read one warning from a plastics industry group. They are “virus-laden.”

The group’s target? The reusable shopping bags that countless of Americans increasingly use instead of disposable plastic bags.

The plastic bag industry, battered by a wave of bans nationwide, is using the coronavirus crisis to try to block laws prohibiting single-use plastic. “We simply don’t want millions of Americans bringing germ-filled reusable bags into retail establishments putting the public and workers at risk,” an industry campaign that goes by the name Bag the Ban warned on Tuesday, quoting a Boston Herald column outlining some of the group’s talking points.

The Plastics Industry Association is also lobbying to quash plastic bag bans. Last week, it sent a letter to the United States Department of Health and Human Services requesting that the department publicly declare that banning single-use plastics during a pandemic is a health threat.

F%$# them with Cheney’s dick.

“Rat Faced Andy” Cuomo Strikes Again

Tax pied-a-terres.
Tax private jets.
Tax yachts.
Tax stock transfers and buybacks.
Tax commercial vacancies.
Tax carried interest.

We need government in New York more than ever. Now is not the time to starve it. Tax the super-wealthy. #BudgetJustice

— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) March 27, 2020

In response to a the pandemic Andrew Cuomo is proposing cuts to the state Medicaid program, because he has spent his ENTIRE time in office cutting taxes on rich people, so the only solution to a hole blown in the state budget is to f%$# the poors:

A panel appointed by New York governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled on Thursday its plan to reduce the state’s Medicaid spending by some $400 million over the next year. The plan will now go to the state legislature for consideration. Remarkably, the proposal is being put forward in the middle of a healthcare crisis that threatens the very lives of the many vulnerable New Yorkers who depend upon such services as Medicaid.

The proposed $400 million cut is part of a bigger program to slash the medicaid budget by $2.5 billion over several years. As the state’s Department of Health website put it, the panel, known as the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT), was put together in February with the goal of “restoring financial sustainability to the Medicaid program while connecting other programmatic initiatives that would advance the core healthcare strategies [Cuomo] has pursued since taking office in 2011.”

As the Doctors Council noted in an urgent call to action released on March 10, the MRT has “little to no frontline doctor representation or representatives of patients and communities, and no one from NYC Health + Hospitals (NYCH+H).”

I would note that this guy is considered to be the “Great White Hope” by the Democratic Party establishment (there is no Democratic Party establishment), and being considered as a replacement for Joe Biden should he have issues as a result of ……… well ……… being Joe Biden.

“Rat Faced Andy” Cuomo  abides, I guess.


So, Jerry Falwell, Jr. decided that Covid-19 was a a liberal hoax, and brought his students back, and now there is an explosion of cases at the “educational” institution:

As Liberty University’s spring break was drawing to a close this month, Jerry Falwell Jr., its president, spoke with the physician who runs Liberty’s student health service about the rampaging coronavirus.

“We’ve lost the ability to corral this thing,” Dr. Thomas W. Eppes Jr. said he told Mr. Falwell. But he did not urge him to close the school. “I just am not going to be so presumptuous as to say, ‘This is what you should do and this is what you shouldn’t do,’” Dr. Eppes said in an interview.

So Mr. Falwell — a staunch ally of President Trump and an influential voice in the evangelical world — reopened the university last week, igniting a firestorm. As of Friday, Dr. Eppes said, nearly a dozen Liberty students were sick with symptoms that suggested Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Three were referred to local hospital centers for testing. Another eight were told to self-isolate.


For critical weeks in January and February, the nation’s far right dismissed the seriousness of the pandemic. Mr. Falwell derided it as an “overreaction” driven by liberal desires to damage Mr. Trump.

Though the current crisis would appear epidemiological in nature, Dr. Eppes said he saw it as a reflection of “the political divide.”

Seriously, only Jerry Falwell, Jr. could make Jerry Fallwell, Sr. look good.

There are going to be dead students at Liberty because of his arrogance, and the blood will be on his hands.

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

Your Daily Schadenfreude

It turns out that the bible museum founded by the Hobby Lobby family and largely populated with looted Iraqi artifact, was taken to the cleaners by someone who sold it phony fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I am amused.

Have you ever been to the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.? The museum is funded by the Green family, the very Christian founders of Hobby Lobby, who wished to dedicate an entire building to the Holy Bible. (Though I’m positive I’ve seen a bunch of pointy ones already serving that purpose). Over the past decade, the family has spent $400 million, money they’ve easily saved up by denying their female employees healthcare, on housing the greatest private collection of holy texts this side of Vatican City.

But like any money spent involving Hobby Lobby, that has mostly been netting them low-quality knockoffs. One of the Museum of the Bible’s most coveted collections has been its fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, that draft of the Hebrew Bible so ancient it crumbled into thousands of pieces and is now scattered all over the world like an inappropriate Easter egg hunt. But from 2009 to 2014, the Greens managed to obtain sixteen bits of Dead Sea Scrolls, fragments that experts soon after deigned to be fake as hell. In response, the Greens employed the Art Fraud Insight group to put the nasty rumors to bed and confirm that, yup, those are less likely to be a hallowed scripture of the teachings of God and more likely just a bit of old shoe.


Confronted with the idea they’ve spent millions on some ancient Huarache’s with doodling on them, the CEO of the museum decried: “We’re victims of misrepresentation, we’re victims of fraud.” But nobody should ever feel bad for the Greens or their vanity museum. The family has had a long history of deliberately not looking too closely at where their artifacts originate, something that cost the Greens $3 million in fines and most of their collection when the government uncovered that they had been using shell companies to smuggle looted Iraqi artifacts into the U.S., knowing full well they might be indirectly funding ISIS in their holy quest to build a shrine to Christianity’s fiction section.

In a just world, they should probably have gone to jail for their looting, but being sold sandals as holy texts is nice.

Oh Sh%$

Italy is one of the countries hardest hit by the corona virus.

One of the hardest hit cities in Italy is Nembro.

Now the Mayor of Nembro and the CEO of a chain of Italian clinic have done an analysis of excess deaths indicating that in Italy, where testing and reporting is FAR more extensive than in the US, deaths from Covid-19 are at least 4 times more than reported.

It should be noted that in unsettled situations like wars and plagues, excess deaths is the generally the best way to get accurate numbers:

Nembro, one of the municipalities most affected by Covid-19, should have had – under normal conditions – about 35 deaths. 158 people were registered dead this year by the municipal offices. But the number of deaths officially attributed to Covid-19 is 31.

In Nembro the almost deserted streets, the absent traffic, a strange silence is sometimes interrupted by the siren of an ambulance that carries with it the anxiety and worry that fill the hearts of all in these weeks. In Nembro every member of the community continuously receives news that he never wanted to hear, every day we lose people who were part of our lives and our community. Nembro, in the province of Bergamo, is the municipality most affected by Covid-19 in relation to the population. We do not know exactly how many people have been infected, but we know that the number of deaths officially attributed to Covid-19 is 31. We are two physicists: one who became an entrepreneur in the health sector, the other a mayor, in close contact with a very cohesive territory, where we know each other very well. We noticed that something in these official numbers did not come back right, and we decided – together – to check. We looked at the average of the deaths in the municipality of previous years, in the period January – March. Nembro should have had – under normal conditions – about 35 deaths. 158 people were registered dead this year by the municipal offices. That is 123 more than the average. Not 31 more, as it should have been according to the official numbers of the coronavirus epidemic.

The difference is enormous and cannot be a simple statistical deviation. Demographic statistics have their «constancies» and annual averages change only when completely «new» phenomena arrive. In this case, the number of abnormal deaths compared to the average that Nembro recorded in the period of time in consideration is equal to 4 times those officially attributed to Covid-19. If a comparison is made between the deaths that have occurred and the same period in previous years, the anomaly is even more evident: there is a peak of «other» deaths in correspondence with that of the official deaths from Covid-19.

It may be that some of these from other causes that occurred because of an overloaded healthcare system, but the overwhelming majority of those excess deaths are from Covid-19.

These numbers also set the fatality rate at an absolute minimum of 1%.

Not good.

After the Pandemic, This Gets My Donations

In what might be the most New York thing ever, a Brooklyn Dodgers fan has successfully completed ayears long search for the plans for Ebbets Field, which he intends to use to construct a ¼ size replica to house a Brooklyn Dodgers museum:

Nobody ever accused Rod Kennedy Jr. of thinking too small.

A Brooklyn Dodgers fan who took a beating in a Pelham, N. Y., schoolyard in the 1950s defending his team’s honor against partisans of the New York Yankees and Giants, he began making his living 35 years later by manufacturing tiny tin replicas of ballparks.

His favorite, naturally, was Ebbets Field, the Dodgers’ longtime home in Flatbush, where he saw Sandy Koufax pitch as a rookie in 1955 and where, he said, his “nervy” mother once slipped into the team’s locker room — “a room of half-naked men” — to collect autographs.

Dissatisfied with recapturing Brooklyn’s past in miniature, however, Mr. Kennedy soon enlarged his ambitions by many orders of magnitude, embarking on a quixotic quest to build a one-quarter-scale replica of Ebbets Field to house a Dodgers museum. To further his aim, he teamed up with Marty Adler, who ran the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame, which had no home.

This is beautiful.  I hope that they succeed.