Month: June 2020

One Candidate Won’t Win, and One Candidate Shouldn’t Win

The Kentucky primary has now been called, as has the Colorado primary, and Amy McGrath has been declared the victor in Kentucky and John Hickenlooper the victor in Colorado.

McGrath is a hot mess, her performance during the debates, her paralysis over policing protests, and her statements on policy had her almost losing the primary despite raising over $40 million.

Her performance has one longing for the inept Alison Lundergan Grimes who was trounced the last time that McConnell was up for reelection.

Still, with lots of money, I’m sure that the consultants will make bank on this, even if Moscow Mitch remains a cancer on the US Senate.

As to Hickenlooper, this is a man who equated climate change activism and Medicare for All to Stalinism, and demonstrated his fealty to the fossil fuel industry by literally drinking a glass of fracking fluid.

And then there are his ethical and rhetorical lapses.  (He was fined by the state ethics commission)

Colorado has become fairly reliably blue on a statewide level, so Hickenlooper is likely to win, particularly since Corey Gardner is seriously wing-nutty, but, should he win, he will be an impediment to any and all progress on the major issues of the day.

It’s Come to This

Congress is looking to returning to fines and imprisonment for witnesses who refuse to testify before oversight committees. (Mostly fines)

This really has not been done in about 75 years, but the increasing assertions of the “Unitary Executive” and the complete capture of the Department of Justice by Donald Trump, leaves only “Inherent Contempt” as alternative:

House Democrats increasingly frustrated by the Trump administration for defying subpoenas are proposing legislation that would ratchet up their power to punish executive branch officials who reject their requests.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), and five other members of the House Judiciary Committee, unveiled a rule change Monday to formalize and expand Congress’ power of “inherent contempt” — its authority to unilaterally punish anyone who defies a subpoena for testimony or documents.

Though Congress has long had inherent contempt power, it has been in disuse since before World War II. This power, upheld by courts, has included the ability to levy fines and even jail witnesses who refuse to cooperate with congressional demands.


[California Democrat Ted] Lieu’s proposal only focuses on monetary penalties. It would establish a process for negotiations between Congress and executive branch officials when disputes arise over testimony and records. The measure would allow federal agencies to lodge objections to congressional requests, and it would permit the president to weigh in and assert any applicable privileges. The measure would also establish a process for holding recalcitrant officials in contempt, including hearings before the full House in which the subject would be permitted to present a defense and would face questions from lawmakers on the House floor.
If the House supports contempt after such a proceeding, it would then vote a second time to impose a financial penalty of up to $25,000. The penalty would be delayed for 20 days to allow for continued negotiations before subsequent penalties may be imposed up to an aggregate of $100,000. The measure would also bar taxpayer dollars from being used to cover any fines assessed through this mechanism.

I would note that while this is rather aggressive by the standards of recent history, but given the level of  disdain shown by recent Presidents in general, and the Trump administration in particular, to Congressional oversight, this is weak tea.

Tweet of the Day

People who believe China is responsible for America’s coronavirus problems are even dumber than people who believe Russia is responsible for Trump’s presidency.

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) July 1, 2020

I agree on both.

Even if the Russian interference in the 2016 campaign was the most egregious since (checks notes) Winston Churchill in 1940, Clinton lost in 2016, as she did in 2008, because of the incompetence, self-dealing, and corruption of both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment).

Even if China was opaque on Covid-19, and it was, this does not excuse the fact that it was clear that actions needed to be taken by mid January, but the response was run by a bunch people who were dedicated to burning the very idea of government down in addition to being, “A bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.”

I Think That the Fracking Bubble Has Officially Burst

I have been observing for some time now that the fracking bubble is unsustainable.

Even ignoring the anthropogenic climate change issues,* fracked oil and gas is expensive, and the drop-off on wells is 10 to 20 times that of conventional wells.

Simply put, it’s been a game of musical chairs, with investors and executives fobbing debt off on idiots, and they have run out of idiots

Basically, this was looting disguised as the energy industry, as evidenced by spending that would make Dennis Koslowski blush.

The biggest player in the field, Chesapeake Energy, has filed for bankruptcy, and the looting is on full display:

The fracking giant’s bankruptcy filing comes following a financial mess at the company that included no budgets, a massive wine collection and a nine-figure bill for parking garages, sources told CNBC’s David Faber.

CEO Robert D. “Doug” Lawler found in examining the company’s books a $110 million bill for two parking garages, Faber reported Monday. Other revelations include a wine collection in a cave hidden behind a broom closet in the Chesapeake office. Extravagances further included a season ticket package to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder that was the biggest in the league and a lavish campus that was modeled after Duke University, complete with bee keepers, botox treatments and chaplains for employees.

Another big player in fracking, Lilis Energy has filed for bankruptcy as well.

Don’t worry about the senior executives who drove the companies into the ground though, they get their multi-million dollar retention bonuses anyway.

We really need to fix our corporate bankruptcy laws.

*Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Dennis Kozlowski, the former head of Tyco international, who had the company buy him things like art and $6,000 shower curtains.

How the Insane Say, “Hey, You Kids, Get off of My Lawn.”


In response to a protest marching down the street in front of their house, “Ken and Karen”, aka Mark and Patricia McCloskey, came out and pointed guns at the protesters.

I’m not sure why they haven’t been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Oh, I forgot. They are white and rich, so the law does not apply to them:

Two years ago, Mark and Patricia McCloskey made local headlines when they raised the curtain on the decades-long renovation of their palatial and historic St. Louis home.

On Sunday, the home was the backdrop of different attention-grabbing scene: Mark brandishing a semiautomatic rifle as protesters en route to the mayor’s home approached nearby. Patricia, a few feet away, was seen pointing a pistol at the crowd, her finger directly on the trigger.

Reaction to photos and videos of the incident was swift: One video had been viewed more than 16 million times and counting as of Monday evening and captured the attention of President Trump, civil rights advocates and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney, who is now investigating the incident.

BTW, while we are talking about insane people, the protest was calling for the mayor to resign, because she read the names and addresses of people calling for police reforms in a press conference, (Doxxing) which was a clear attempt to intimidate people who would be inclined to criticize the police.

The protesters passed the McCloskey’s home on their way to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house a block over. The Democratic mayor had drawn the ire of local activists and civil rights groups days earlier when she publicized the names and addresses of several fellow activists.

FWIW, I’m with the ACLU on this. The mayor’s behavior was contemptible:

Our statement regarding the decision of the mayor of St. Louis to read the names and addresses on Facebook Live of residents she disagrees with. This was intimidation pure and simple.

— ACLU of Missouri (@aclu_mo) June 26, 2020

Yes, the mayor should resign.

This Is Going to Be Ugly

It now appears that office rents in Manhattan are set to fall by more than a quarter.

Considering the leverage of most developers, and the relatively short term of real estate loans, they typically have to be refinanced every 5 years, we are looking at a huge number of bad loans popping up in the not too distant future:

Manhattan’s office rents are likely to plummet to the lowest level since 2012 if the U.S. economy doesn’t recover quickly from the pandemic.

Asking rents could decline 26% to about $62.47 a square foot (roughly $672 per square meter) in a prolonged recession, according to a report from Savills. Rents haven’t fallen to that level since 2012, the real estate services firm said.

Savills’ research used indicators that it says are correlated to rental rates, including gross domestic product, unemployment and office vacancies in Manhattan.

Also, there is going to be a f%$# load of work from home which is likely to permanently depress office demand, because literally hundreds of thousands employers have discovered that you don’t have to have someone in the office 5 days a week. and that it saves them a fair chunk of change.


Moar Cowbell!!

Today in Savage Book Reviews

Matt Taibbi giving a savage book review is its own reward.

I cannot possibly due justice to it so I will leave you with just this quote:

It takes a special kind of ignorant for an author to choose an example that illustrates the mathematical opposite of one’s intended point, but this isn’t uncommon in White Fragility, which may be the dumbest book ever written. It makes The Art of the Deal read like Anna Karenina.

Go read.

Even if you disagree with the thesis, you will be amused.

A Good Alternative to Wikileaks is Promptly Censored by Twitter

DDoSecrets has been established to facilitate sharing secrets, and Twitter promptly banned them and declared the site a virus risk:

For the past year, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has sat in a London jail awaiting extradition to the US. This week, the US Justice Department piled on yet more hacking conspiracy allegations against him, all related to his decade-plus at the helm of an organization that exposed reams of government and corporate secrets to the public. But in Assange’s absence, another group has picked up where WikiLeaks left off—and is also picking new fights.

For roughly the past year and a half, a small group of activists known as Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets, has quietly but steadily released a stream of hacked and leaked documents, from Russian oligarchs’ emails to the stolen communications of Chilean military leaders to shell company databases. Late last week, the group unleashed its most high-profile leak yet: BlueLeaks, a 269-gigabyte collection of more than a million police files provided to DDoSecrets by a source aligned with the hacktivist group Anonymous, spanning emails, audio files, and interagency memos largely pulled from law enforcement “fusion centers,” which serve as intelligence-sharing hubs. According to DDoSecrets, it represents the largest-ever release of hacked US police data. It may put DDoSecrets on the map as the heir to WikiLeaks’ mission—or at least the one it adhered to in its earlier, more idealistic years—and the inheritor of its never-ending battles against critics and censors.

“Our role is to archive and publish leaked and hacked data of potential public interest,” writes the group’s cofounder, Emma Best, a longtime transparency activist, in a text message interview with WIRED. “We want to inspire people to come forward, and release accurate information regardless of its source.”


For DDoSecrets, the firefight has already started. On Tuesday evening, as media attention grew around the BlueLeaks release, Twitter banned the group’s account, citing a policy that it doesn’t allow the publication of hacked information. The company followed up with an even more drastic step, removing tweets that link to the DDoSecrets website, which maintains a searchable database of all of its leaks, and suspending some accounts retroactively for linking to the group’s material.

Best says DDoSecrets, an organization with no address and whose shoestring budget runs mostly on donations, is still strategizing a response and the best workaround to publicize its leaks—potentially shifting to Telegram or Reddit—but has no intention of letting the ban halt its work. “‘Too dangerous for Twitter’ is some Nixonian sh%$ I didn’t expect,” Best says.

Their superpower here appears to be that they are not assholes, as Assange of Wikileaks is, and that they have some more objective standards.

As to BlueLeaks, it is pretty big deal:

The documents reveal what information the police have on people — it’s even searchable by police badge number.

The result is shocking.

The leak revealed incidents of the FBI forwarding Tweets they deemed “threatening” to police departments, classifying protest medics and lawyers as “extremists”, and Google providing detailed information about its users on request.

As an aside, even if you do not want to read BlueLeaks, I strongly recommend that you download the file for 2 reasons:

  • Every copy makes it harder to put the genie back into the bottle.
  • The nature of the method of distribution, Bit Torrent, means that if you download the document, you are also make the document more available to other downloaders.

Here is the leak for DDoSecrets, and you can try to access the files driectly from the web site, but this will hammer the site, so I recommend that you download the whole file via Bit Torrent.

Note however that the file is large enough that many Bit Torrent clients will not work, so I would recommend Transmission, and you can download the portable version, which does not require an installation program or admin privileges.

About F%$#ing Time

It looks like Mississippi will be the final state to remove the Confederate emblem from its flag.

It reinforces stereotypes that Mississippi is the last to do this:

Mississippi legislators have voted to replace the state flag, the last in the nation to feature the Confederate battle emblem, which has been condemned as racist.

The state House and the Senate voted to remove the current flag on Sunday and create a commission that will design a new flag that cannot include the Confederate symbol and that must have the words “In God We Trust”. Mississippi governor Tate Reeves has signalled he will sign the measure in the coming days.

The flag’s supporters have resisted efforts to change it for decades, but rapid developments in recent weeks have changed dynamics on this issue in the state, which has a long history of systemic racism and saw more lynchings of African Americans than any other state in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Franco’s Misbegotten Spawn

This is not a surprise.  Spain’s People’s Party (PP) is a direct successor to Franco’s fascists, and sacrificing civilians to political expediency is in their blood:

By the time Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, declared a state of alarm on March 14, the deadly coronavirus had already begun to infiltrate and rip through many of the nursing homes across the nation’s capital. Like sitting ducks, the highest risk members of society didn’t stand a chance.

Thousands died all alone; in Madrid, several were found lifeless in their beds by soldiers who had been drafted to disinfect the area. Many were carted off to the city’s ice rink, by that time converted into a makeshift morgue. Families were unable to say goodbye.

Those in nursing homes lucky enough to avoid the virus have been unable to step out into the world for over three months. The situation has been likened by many to incarceration. The mental and physical toll has been tremendous.

Yet Madrid’s right-wing regional government seems to have washed its hands of the problem, mudslinging in parliament in order to divert the discussion from this tragic situation. Spaniards are indignant at its failings. But now we must examine why elderly people can be so easily discarded, just because they’re no longer contributing to the economy.


In Spain, whose healthcare system is decentralized across its seventeen autonomous regions, the overall figure for care home deaths alone is said to be close to twenty thousand — more than double Germany’s entire death toll.


Madrid, a region that has been governed by the conservative People’s Party (PP) since 1995, accounts for around 32 percent of the country’s COVID-19 deaths, while representing only 14 percent of its population.

This was no natural disaster. Years of closures and cuts left the region ill-equipped to face the gravest humanitarian crisis to hit the country since the 1936 civil war.


The mounting death toll in nursing homes was initially lost in the widespread frenzy and panic that gripped Spain as the infection curve continued to soar. But now the dust has settled — 48 new cases were detected in Spain on Sunday, June 14; a month ago this figure was 849 — and the harrowing truth has emerged.

It has now come to light that the regional health ministry emailed nursing homes across the Madrid region instructing them to prevent patients of a certain condition, or indeed patients over a certain age, from being hospitalized.

Ayuso claims that the original communication was merely a draft that was released “by mistake.”

El País newspaper, however, reports that Carlos Mur de Víu, director general of social and health coordination, sent at least four emails, on March 18, 20, 24, and 25, to the Ministry of Social Policies. These provided the guidance that hospitals and residences followed, ruling out the hospitalization of disabled and elderly patients with COVID-19.

If one “draft” email may indeed have been released in error, Mur de Víu’s actions clearly show the type of strategy that was deployed. As hospitals edged ever closer to the breaking point, it became a matter of survival of the fittest. The voiceless elderly were an easy sacrifice.


Ayuso claims that the original communication was merely a draft that was released “by mistake.”

El País newspaper, however, reports that Carlos Mur de Víu, director general of social and health coordination, sent at least four emails, on March 18, 20, 24, and 25, to the Ministry of Social Policies. These provided the guidance that hospitals and residences followed, ruling out the hospitalization of disabled and elderly patients with COVID-19.


186 nursing homes in Spain are currently being invested by the public prosecutor’s office — almost half of them in the Madrid region.


In a cruel twist, showing once again that social inequality often lasts from the cradle to the grave, it has been reported that elderly people who were able to afford private health insurance were not denied hospital treatment. Íñigo Errejón, leader of Más País, tweeted: “This is the freedom of the neoliberals. You’re left to die if you have no money, you’re allowed to save yourself if you pay. Shameless.”

Franco’s bastards.

American Exceptionalism, Huh?

Considering the origins of policing in the US, slave patrols and suppressing labor unrest, this is not a surprise:

Police in America’s biggest cities are failing to meet even the most basic international human rights standards governing the use of lethal force, a new study from the University of Chicago has found.

Researchers in the university’s law school put the lethal use-of-force policies of police in the 20 largest US cities under the microscope. They found not a single police department was operating under guidelines that are compliant with the minimum standards laid out under international human rights laws.

Among the failings identified by the law scholars, some police forces violate the requirement that lethal force should only be wielded when facing an immediate threat and as a last resort. Some departments allow deadly responses in cases of “escaping suspects”, “fugitives”, or “prevention of crime” – all scenarios that would be deemed to fall well outside the boundaries set by international law.

In other cities, police guidelines failed to constrain officers to use only as much force as is proportionate to the threat confronting them.

Remarkably, the researchers from the law school’s international human rights clinic discovered that none of the 20 police departments were operating under state laws that were in accord with human rights standards.

This is a feature, not a bug.

The role of the police in the United States has never been to, “Protect and Serve,” it has been to keep “them” down and generate revenue through fines.

Not a Surprise

Former deputy CIA Director Avril Haines is a major security advisor to the Biden campaign.

She has scrubbed her bio to remove any reference to Palantir, Peter Thiel’s surveillance contractor.

To say that Palantir is controversial, given Thiel’s prominent position with the right wing, and the firm’s function as a cut-out to enable surveillance by the US State Security Apparatus would be an understatement:

In the run-up to the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is putting together a foreign policy team for a potential future administration. Among those described as being part of the team is Avril Haines, former deputy director of the CIA during the Obama administration. According to an NBC News report from last week, Haines has been tapped to work advising on policy, as well as lead the national security and foreign policy team.

In addition to her past national security work and impressive presence in the D.C. think tank world, Haines has in the past described herself as a former consultant for the controversial data-mining firm Palantir. Haines’s biography page at the Brookings Institute, where she is listed as a nonresident senior fellow, boasted of this affiliation until at least last week, when it suddenly no longer appeared on the page.

The nature of the consulting work that Haines did for Palantir is not clear. As of press time, requests for comment to her, the Biden campaign, Palantir, and Brookings were not answered. Prior to being removed from the Brookings page, the connection to the data-mining company was listed alongside a long list of other affiliations that were similarly pared down.

The affiliation — and its apparent disappearance — raises questions for a campaign that has posed itself as the antithesis to President Donald Trump’s far-right governance. Co-founded by a far-right, Trump-supporting tech billionaire, Palantir, whose business has benefited from a slew of government contracts, has been accused of aiding in the Trump administration’s immigration detention programs in the U.S. and helping the Trump administration build out its surveillance state.

Palantir has been profiting off of invading people’s privacy for the state since the Bush administration, and anyone having an involvement with the organization should be viewed with a lot of suspicion.

The ties to the Trump administration aren’t the only aspect of Palantir’s history that raises questions. The company has also been accused in the past of plotting to intimidate journalists involved in reporting documents released by WikiLeaks. And Palantir has also provided services to police — another move that appears to put the company out of step with the current political moment. The company also aided the National Security Agency by creating the tools to facilitate worldwide spying.

Haines’ involvement with Palantir is problematic when juxtaposed with her prominent position in the Biden campaign.

The decision to scrub her record is even more concerning.

Correlation Is Not Causation, But………

JP Morgan has commissioned a study showing that increased spending on restaurants correlates to increased Coronavirus cases.

This indicates that the hospitality industry may need to be shut down once again:

A surge in restaurant spending appears to predict a surge in coronavirus cases weeks later, a new JPMorgan study found.

The firm analyzed spending by 30 million Chase credit and debit cardholders and coronavirus case data from Johns Hopkins University, and found that spending patterns from a few weeks ago “have some power in predicting where the virus has spread since then,” analyst Jesse Edgerton wrote Thursday. The study found that the “level of spending in restaurants three weeks ago was the strongest predictor of the rise in new virus cases over the subsequent three weeks,” in line with the firm’s recent studies using OpenTable data.

Notably, JPMorgan found that ‘card-present’ transactions in restaurants (meaning the person was dining in, not ordering online) were “particularly predictive” to a later spread of the virus.

And interestingly, the JPMorgan study also found that increased spending in supermarkets correlated to a slower spread of the virus. Analyst Edgerton wrote that the correlation hints that “high levels of supermarket spending are indicative of more careful social distancing in a state.” The firm pointed out that as of three weeks ago, supermarket spending in states like New York and New Jersey, which are now seeing a decrease in cases, was up 20% or more from a year ago, whereas states now seeing a surge like Texas and Arizona saw supermarket spending up less than 10%.


Indeed, states that reopened restaurants and bars earlier on are seeing surges in cases. On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that, “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” as the state announced it would be closing bars and reducing capacity at restaurants. New cases in Texas have risen over 5,400 as of Thursday. Florida, which has been criticized for reopening quickly, saw new cases spike to nearly 9,000 on Friday, also announcing it will reinstate some restrictions, Halsey Beshears, the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, said in a tweet.

I think that a lot of  “rebound” in the May unemployment report was a recovery in the hospitality industry, and it looks like that is going to reverse.

Grabbing Them by the Pocketbook

With a growing boycott of ads from large advertisers, Facebook is promising half measures to address politically motivated hate speech and lies.

Rather unsurprisingly, given Facebook’s affection for right wing conspiracy theorists and racists, these motions are limited to a bland notice.

Hopefully, the advertisers will see through this:

As advertisers pull away from Facebook to protest the social networking giant’s hands-off approach to misinformation and hate speech, the company is instituting a number of stronger policies to woo them back.

In a livestreamed segment of the company’s weekly all-hands meeting, CEO Mark Zuckerberg recapped some of the steps Facebook is already taking, and announced new measures to fight voter suppression and misinformation — although they amount to things that other social media platforms like Twitter have already enacted and enforced in more aggressive ways.

At the heart of the policy changes is an admission that the company will continue to allow politicians and public figures to disseminate hate speech that does, in fact, violate Facebook’s own guidelines — but it will add a label to denote they’re remaining on the platform because of their “newsworthy” nature.

It’s a watered-down version of the more muscular stance that Twitter has taken to limit the ability of its network to amplify hate speech or statements that incite violence.


Facebook is also going to take additional steps to restrict hate speech in advertising.

“Specifically, we’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re also expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.”

Zuckerberg’s remarks came days of advertisers — most recently Unilever and Verizon — announced that they’re going to pull their money from Facebook as part the #StopHateforProfit campaign organized by civil rights groups.

Who Had the 2020 over and under on Russian Nuclear Accident?

Sensors in Finland, Sweden, and Norway are detecting a radiation spike consistent with some sort of nuclear accident.

The numbers are low, but something has happened:

Nordic authorities say they detected slightly increased levels of radioactivity in northern Europe this month that Dutch officials said may be from a source in western Russia and may “indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant.”

But Russian news agency TASS, citing a spokesman with the state nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom., reported that the two nuclear power plans in northwestern Russia haven’t reported any problems.


The Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish radiation and nuclear safety watchdogs said this week they’ve spotted small amounts of radioactive isotopes harmless to humans and the environment in parts of Finland, southern Scandinavia and the Arctic.


But the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands said Friday it analyzed the Nordic data and “these calculations show that the radionuclides (radioactive isotopes) come from the direction of Western Russia.”

“The radionuclides are artificial, that is to say they are man-made. The composition of the nuclides may indicate damage to a fuel element in a nuclear power plant,” the Dutch agency said, adding that ”a specific source location cannot be identified due to the limited number of measurements.”

The levels are low, and the source has not been identified, but it’s 2020, so fasten your seat-belts, we are in for a bumpy ride.

Objectively Pro-Bigotry and Pro-Fascist

Clearly Fraudulent

I am referring, of course to Facebook.
It turns out that Zuckerberg’s monster is complicit in Ben Shapiro’s astroturfing to monetize false engagement.

You can be sure that if this were someone selling cheesecake, they would have been banned years ago.

From a more personal perspective, if I were to do this on my blog, I would be demonitized instantly.

In fact, if I were to make a post just SUGGESTING that you click through on the ads on my blog, I would subject to sanctions from Google™ Adsense™.  (Please see my disclaimer below)

I’m not sure if Zuckerberg is a wing-nut, or if he simply finds that it’s more profitable to sell whack-doodle conspiracy theories to the wing-nuts, and I don’t care.  The effect is the same:

The success of The Daily Wire, the website run by right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro, on Facebook is mind-boggling. The site has a small staff and primarily aggregates content from Twitter and other news outlets. Typically, its articles are very short, usually less than 500 words, and contain no original reporting.

And yet, last month, The Daily Wire was the seventh-ranked publisher on Facebook, according to the analytics service NewsWhip. Articles published in The Daily Wire attracted 60,616,745 engagements in May. Engagement is a combination of shares, likes, and comments, and is a way of quantifying distribution on Facebook. The reach of The Daily Wire’s articles was equal to the New York Times (60,722,727) and more than the Washington Post (49,219,525).

But that actually understates how well The Daily Wire does on Facebook. While the New York Times published 15,587 articles in May, and the Washington Post published 8,048, The Daily Wire published just 1,141. On a per article basis, The Daily Wire receives more distribution than any other major publisher. And it’s not close.

What explains The Daily Wire’s phenomenal success on Facebook? Popular Information revealed part of the answer last October. But the full story is much darker.

Popular Information has discovered a network of large Facebook pages — each built by exploiting racial bias, religious bigotry, and violence — that systematically promote content from The Daily Wire. These pages, some of which have over 2 million followers, do not disclose a business relationship with The Daily Wire. But they all post content from The Daily Wire ten or more times each day. Moreover, these pages post the exact same content from The Daily Wire at the exact same time.

The undisclosed relationship not only helps explain The Daily Wire’s unlikely success on Facebook but also appears to violate Facebook’s rules.


The network of large Facebook pages promoting The Daily Wire are all run by Corey and Christy Pepple, who are best known as the creators of Mad World News. Facebook pages controlled by the Pepples include Mad World News (2,176,003 followers), The New Resistance (2,857,876 followers), Right Stuff (610,809 followers), America First (577,753 followers), and American Patriot (447,799 followers).


Why do these toxic Facebook pages keep sharing content from The Daily Wire? Do the Pepples just really like Ben Shapiro’s site? The Daily Wire did not respond to a request for comment. But the behavior of these pages strongly suggests that The Daily Wire and Mad World News, LLC, the company owned by Corey and Christy Pepple, have a business relationship.

The Daily Wire is the only website outside of those owned by the Pepples that is shared by these five pages. And each of the five Facebook pages shares at least ten Daily Wire links every day. Conspicuously, the Facebook pages share the exact same links from The Daily Wire at the exact same time.


The pattern repeats over and over again, ten times or more every day. It’s behavior that strongly suggests that Mad World News, LLC is being paid to promote content from The Daily Wire.
If that’s the case, The Daily Wire could be violating Facebook’s rules. Facebook allows pages to be paid to post content, but the sponsorship must be disclosed using Facebook’s branded content tool.


The activity also appears to violate Facebook’s prohibition on coordinated inauthentic behavior, which includes a ban on activity to “artificially boost the popularity of content.”


There is no reason that the network of Facebook pages run by Corey and Christy Pepple should have flown beneath Facebook’s radar. Years ago, the Pepples became notorious for exploiting Facebook with poisonous content.


The Daily Wire’s apparent business relationship with Mad World News isn’t the first time the site has been caught flouting Facebook’s rules. Last October, Popular Information revealed a clandestine network of 14 large Facebook pages that purported to be independent but exclusively promote content from The Daily Wire in a coordinated fashion.


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a relationship with Shapiro, who Zuckerberg has hosted at his home. According to a source who has spoken with Shapiro, Zuckerberg and Shapiro remain in direct communication.

My standard disclaimer on any post about the aforementioned service applies:

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google™ Adsense™.

Nature Cannot Be Fooled

The good little Neoliberals in Chile decided to increase forestation and offset carbon emissions by paying loggers to plant forests.

This program achieved none of its goals:

A multi-decade state program to subsidize tree planting in one of South America’s wealthiest nations led to a loss of biodiversity and did little to increase the forests’ capacity to capture greenhouse gases.

Chile’s plantation forests more than doubled between 1986 and 2011, while native forests shrunk by 13%, according to a new report by U.S. and Chilean academics. The country subsidized tree planting while its forestry sector boomed over that period.

Yet the environmental benefits are not as clear. Subsidies accelerated biodiversity losses in Chile as plantations often focus on one or two profitable tree species, the report said. While forest area expanded by more than 100% between 1986 and 2011, the carbon stored in vegetation increased by just 1.98% during that period.

“Our simulations indicate that plantation subsidies accelerated biodiversity losses in Chile by encouraging the expansion of plantations into more biodiverse forests,” researchers said in the paper published inNature Susainability on Monday. Chile’s case “provides several cautionary lessons,” according to Robert Heilmayr at the University of California Santa Barbara, Cristian Echeverria at Universidad de Concepcion in Chile and Eric F. Lambin at Stanford University.

This has happened time and time again:  Attempts to enlist the profit motives to achieve a public good generate profits, but little in the way of public good.

The title is taken from Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman’s comment in the appendix that he authored for the report on the space shuttle Challenger destruction:

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.