Month: August 2020

Tweet of the Day

Obama said people losing faith in the vote being meaningful is how democracy ends. That is just victim-blaming. Democracy ends when voting doesn’t change things. Voting for Obama didn’t change things, thus showing that democracy is weak and voting doesn’t matter.

— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) August 20, 2020

The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) as it currently exists, and as it is personified by the Clintons and the Obamas, is incapable of even conceiving that people can working together can make the world a better place.

Former Senior Trump Adviser Steve Bannon Charged With Alleged Fundraising Scheme

Kris Kobach is the general counsel of the Build the Wall PAC that Steve Bannon was just arrested for being involved in as chairman. The advisory board includes Erik Prince, former CO congressman Tom Tancredo, Sheriff Dave Clarke and former pitcher Curt Schilling.

— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) August 20, 2020

This is the Trifecta of Wingnut Scams

If you read Breitbart at all, or watch Fox News at all, or listen to Rush Limbaugh at all, it quickly becomes clear that a lot of the advertisers for these media outlets are out-right scams.

You see dodgy gold offers, income at home bunco, weight loss supplements, MLM programs, Green Card rackets, etc.

So it comes as no surprise that the private foundation raising money to build a southern border wall has turned out to be a scam, and its principals, including Steve Bannon.

I am not surprised that this was basically a scam, and the organizers were living the high life off the proceeds, but I am a bit surprised about the arrest.

I am surprised that there was an arrest though, and it has to be a let down to Bannon that the arresting officers did not come from the FBI, nor the US Marshalls, but the United States Post Office!

This sh%$ is going tinfoil hat quickly.

Former senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon was arrested and charged with fraud Thursday in connection with an alleged scheme to siphon hundreds of thousands of dollars from a crowdfunding campaign backing one of the president’s signature promises: building a wall along the southern U.S. border.

The We Build the Wall campaign raised more than $25 million, according to prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, which brought the case. The group, which isn’t connected to President Trump but was promoted by several people close to him, has spent less than half its funds on two short stretches of wall in New Mexico and Texas.

“As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.

Ms. Strauss assumed leadership of the nation’s most prominent federal prosecutor’s office after Mr. Trump ousted former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman at the request of Attorney General William Barr in June. A law-enforcement official said Mr. Barr was briefed on the case before Thursday’s arrests but declined to elaborate.

My reaction to all this, “I’ll have what she’s having.” (Twice in a month, that’s a lot of schadenfreude)

Here is hoping that Bannon does not succumb to the delirium tremens before we have the spectacle of him breaking down in court.

Over 1 Million!!!!!

Initial jobless claims rose to 1,106,000 last week, up from 971,000 the week before.

This is the first increase in initial claims since the Covid shutdown began.

This is not going to be a short duration recession.  We have over 15 million continuing claims, up from about 2 million before the shutdown, and an increasing number of the layoffs have become permanent.

Then we have something like 30 million Americans facing foreclosure or eviction.

This will not be a “V” shaped recovery:

New applications for unemployment benefits rose last week after a series of declines, another sign the labor market’s recovery is cooling amid continuing disruptions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Weekly initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 135,000 to a seasonally adjusted 1.1 million in the week ended Aug. 15, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The report followed others from the government and private firms showing that job gains slowed in July from June, job postings fell this week for the first time since April and several companies are planning more layoffs.

Still, the data show the job market is improving, though more slowly than in the spring.The number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, which cover most workers, fell to about 14.8 million for the week ended Aug. 8. That marked the lowest number on benefit rolls since April. And nationally, new hiring is more than offsetting job cuts.


In addition to regular state claims, Thursday’s report showed the number of people applying for special federal pandemic assistance also rose in the week that ended Aug. 15. That program is open to self-employed and other workers who aren’t eligible for state programs. In early August, more than 11 million people were receiving benefits through that program.

These numbers are catastrophic, and unprecedented in post war labor statistics.

There are way too many people, and this coverage, are whistling past the grave yard.


I Now Have a Motto for the Election

It’s Fine to Feel Like Sh%$ About Joe Biden and the DNC

—David Sirota on Jacobin

This pretty much typifies my feeling about this election.

The choice is between Trump, and the people who, through their venality, corruption and incompetence, made Trump possible.

It is always hard to get back from some time away — the email backlog, the pile of bills, the untended to-do list, and the inevitable aggravation from the home appliance that somehow no longer works, even though it was running smoothly before you left.


I’m wondering, because this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. I’m told I should be bouncing up in the morning, uplifted by the Democratic convention and its promise of a new era soon — seventy-five days. But at least for me, watching the cable TV snippets, the convention speeches, and the celebratory Twitter dunks has left me with that feeling you get after eating junk food — full but not nourished; bloated, tired, and vaguely nauseous.

I’ve worked on a lot of Democratic campaigns, wins and losses. I’m literally married to a Democratic elected official. Over twenty years, I’ve put in an almost embarrassing amount of time working to support the Democratic Party. So these feelings are somewhat new for me, and I don’t think I’m having them just because Democratic officials decided to turn this year’s convention into a promotional platform for Republican icons who attacked unions, laid off thousands of workers, promoted climate denial, endangered 9/11 survivors, and lied us into a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people.


I think the despair is deeper — and it has something to do with the now-yawning gap between social expectation and reality.


But pretense is the necessary ingredient for authentic enthusiasm, and there is no pretense anymore. Everyone, on all sides of this situation — and I mean literally everyone — knows that politics today is pantomime. You may not say it out loud, you may not like thinking about it — but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, because somewhere deep down in there, everyone senses the fraudulence at hand.

This is a moment of apolitical crises — that is, crises that aren’t just manufactured by and confined to the political soundstage, but instead life-and-death, out-here-in-the-real-world emergencies in the realms of money, biology, and ecology. We’re facing an economic and environmental collapse in the midst of a lethal pandemic. And we’re going through this cataclysm with a legislative branch controlled by right-wing senators, a court system that rubber stamps corporate demands, and an authoritarian president whose major crisis-management experience was firing people on the Apprentice.

Democrats have turned Iraq War criminals into #Resistance heroes, Wall Street thieves into economic gurus & the governor of Mount Covid into a hunky mancrush.

If you’re not psyched about that, you’re not crazy — you’re refusing to self-lobotomize.

— David Sirota (@davidsirota) August 19, 2020

Not ready for the home lobotomy kit

And yet, in the middle of this five-alarm garbage fire, we’re asked to white-knuckle it and feign excitement for an opposition party machine run by insiders, lobbyists, and careerists who keep letting us know that they think campaign promises are distinct from policy. In so many ways, they keep telling us over and again that the most we can hope for is, in the words of the nominee himself, that “nothing would fundamentally change.”


The worst part is that dispassionately recounting any of these facts obviously proves you love Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — at least, that’s what you’ll be told if you dare even whisper this. In our tribalized politics, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and dissent is disloyalty. Failure to match the rah-rah spirit of the Blue Team, refusal to get psyched for the charade, asking questions about inconvenient facts — it all means you must be on the Red Team and are being paid in rubles, comrade.


Either way, the constant, incessant demand to be happy about fraudulence — the insistence that we put on a smile and insinuate that the New Deal is on the ballot — is shamefully dishonest. It helps make the whole process into exactly what Ohio state senator Nina Turner described: “It’s like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still shit.”

This is demoralizing for obvious reasons, but to feel demoralized is to feel like you’re crazy and alone — because it requires you to deviate from the norm of blissful and willful ignorance. It requires you to pay attention and reject a culture that tries to turn you into a goldfish, forgetting your entire world every fifteen minutes.


If we forget how bad the old “normal” was and just have to go back to a Wall Street–run White House championing incrementalism in the face of existential crises, what is to stop another Trump from emerging afterward?

Mandy Rice-Davies Applies*

Of course they are.  They are opposed to anything that would make it harder for them to monetize our privacy:

The trade group representing many of the largest technological security companies is urging regulators not to overreach on facial recognition restrictions even as U.S. lawmakers push to rein in police use of the software.

The Security Industry Association, which represents NEC Corp., France’s Idemia Group, Japan’s Ayonix Corp. and others, will release on Tuesday day a 10-point framework urging policy-makers, companies and governments to embrace the benefits of the technology, while upholding certain ethical principles.

SIA is defending government use of facial recognition at a time when some civil rights advocates, companies, and lawmakers are calling for police departments to stop using the technology. Critics want better guardrails to ensure facial recognition doesn’t promote racial biases in the criminal justice system.

Calls to curb law enforcement’s use of the technology grew louder during widespread public outrage over racial inequities following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis police custody in May.

SIA’s policy principles, obtained by Bloomberg News, caution lawmakers not to adopt a “one-size-fits-all legislative framework.”

Here is a quick rule of thumb:  When businesses start proposing regulatory forbearance, or suggesting that, “One Size Fits All,” legislation (mark your bullsh%$ bingo card) would be a bad thing, and that they are proposing, “Policy Principles,” it means that they want business as usual to continue, typically by sucking the marrow out of the public space.

These folks want to make money by being evil, and they don’t care if they sell to corrupt and brutal cops in the USA, or Chinese authorities enforcing a genocide against the Uighurs. 

*Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Seriously, know your history.

Of Course They Did

Securus, a phone company specializing in looting for prisoners and their families by over charging on phone calls, has now been revealed to have, for at least the second time in the past few months, recorded privileged conversations between detainees and their lawyers.

This is so f%$#ing illegal that a cop heard the calls and contacted the state attorney general:

Jail phone telco Securus provided recordings of protected attorney-client conversations to cops and prosecutors, it is claimed, just three months after it settled a near-identical lawsuit.

The corporate giant controls all telecommunications between the outside world and prisoners in American jails that contract with it. It charges far above market rate, often more than 100 times, while doing so.

It has now been sued by three defense lawyers in Maine, who accuse the corporation of recording hundreds of conversations between them and their clients – something that is illegal in the US state. It then supplied those recordings to jail administrators and officers of the law, the attorneys allege.

Though police officers can request copies of convicts’ calls to investigate crimes, the cops aren’t supposed to get attorney-client-privileged conversations. In fact, these chats shouldn’t be recorded in the first place. Yet, it is claimed, Securus not only made and retained copies of these sensitive calls, it handed them to investigators and prosecutors.

“Securus failed to screen out attorney-client privileged calls, and then illegally intercepted these calls and distributed them to jail administrators who are often law enforcers,” the lawsuit [PDF] alleged. “In some cases the recordings have been shared with district attorneys.”


The recordings only came to light in May after a detective was listening to copies of recordings he had been provided, and recognized the voice of one of the lawyers, John Tebbetts, talking to his client. The detective alerted Maine’s Attorney General and the AG then informed the lawyers, providing them with copies of hundreds of calls made from jail and asked them to flag up any that were client-attorney protected so that they could be deleted. Tebbetts, plus Jeremy Pratt and Robert Ruffner, are the trio suing Securus this month.


Amazingly, this is not the first time Securus has been accused of this same sort of behavior. Just three months ago, in May this year, the company settled a similar class-action lawsuit this time covering jails in California.

That time, two former prisoners and a criminal defense attorney sued Securus after it recorded more than 14,000 legally protected conversations between inmates and their legal eagles. Those recordings only came to light after someone hacked the corp’s network and found some 70 million stored conversations, which were subsequently leaked to journalists.

Securus claimed the recordings were the result of a software glitch, rather than an intentional act, and stuck to that explanation as the case wound its way through the US legal system over four years.


Even though that lawsuit was started in 2016, Securus perhaps did not fix its apparent software bug because the recordings in this new lawsuit took place from September 2019 to May this year. As part of its settlement, Securus said it would create a new “private call” option for protected calls with attorneys and physicians and include additional warnings if the call is being recorded.

In a just world, the senior executives at Securus would spending their days in prison being forced to pay 100 times the actual cost of their phone calls.

It’s pretty clear that they simply do not give a sh%$ about the rights of defendants, or about being contemptible greed heads.

They are so evil that I expect them to speak at the Republican National Convention.

Another Bounty on US Troops? Yawn.

Have you heard the story of the boy who cried wolf?

Well now, the US State Security Apparatus is alleging that Iran paid bounties for attacks on US troops.

Coming next, unnamed sources evidence that LeBron James is paying bounties for attacks on US military personnel in Afghanistan:

Iran is reported to have paid bounties to a Taliban faction for killing US and coalition troops in Afghanistan, leading to six attacks last year including a suicide bombing at the US airbase in Bagram.

According to CNN, US intelligence assessed that Iran paid the bounties to the Haqqani network, for the Bagram attack on 11 December, which killed two civilians and injured more than 70 others, including two Americans.

The Pentagon decided not to take retaliatory action in the hope of preserving a peace deal the Trump administration agreed with the Taliban in February, the CNN report said. In January, less than a month after the Bagram attack, the US killed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Suleimani, in a drone strike in Baghdad, but that attack is not thought to have been a direct retaliation for Bagram.


The report comes nearly two months after allegations that Russia was paying bounties to Taliban fighters for killing Americans in Afghanistan. Donald Trump rejected those reports as a “hoax”, but the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, confirmed he warned his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that there would be “an enormous price to pay” if Moscow was paying such bounties. The Pentagon has said it will investigate the reports of Russian bounties but has so far not produced a conclusion to that investigation.

The credence that the national security press gives their sources in intelligence, who are literally professional liars, buggers the mind.

Only in America

I came across two stories within minutes of each other, the first reported that FHA mortgage delinquencies have hit record levels, and the second story reveals that home builder confidence in the US has hit a record high

This is a recipe for disaster:

Federal Housing Administration mortgages — the affordable path to homeownership for many first-time buyers, minorities and low-income Americans — now have the highest delinquency rate in at least four decades.

The share of late FHA loans rose to almost 16% in the second quarter, up from about 9.7% in the previous three months and the highest level in records dating back to 1979, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Monday. The delinquency rate for conventional loans, by comparison, was 6.7%.

Millions of Americans stopped paying their mortgages after losing jobs in the coronavirus crisis. Those on the lower end of the income scale are most likely to have FHA loans, which allow borrowers with shaky credit to buy homes with small down payments.

For now, most of them are protected from foreclosure by the federal forbearance program, in which borrowers with pandemic-related hardships can delay payments for as much as a year without penalty. As of Aug. 9, about 3.6 million homeowners were in forbearance, representing 7.2% of loans, the MBA said in a separate report. The share has decreased for nine straight weeks.

Note that even though interest rates are low, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have implemented a
0.5-percentage-point “adverse market” fee to account for the increase risk of default, but home builders are confident.

My guess is that they are expecting a taxpayer bailout of some sort:

U.S. home builder confidence rose for a third straight month in August to match its highest level ever as record-low interest rates spur buyer traffic, data released on Monday showed in the latest indication the housing market is a rare bright spot in the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Epstein and Trump And Clinton and the Democratic National Convention

Seriously, if Clinton gets taken down, or embarrassed, or just hauled into court, as a result of the Ghislane Maxwell trial, more power to the prosecutors.

So reports that there are photographs of show Clinton apparently receiving a neck massage from alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim Chauntae Davies don’t bother me, though I think it is mind bogglingly stupid to have them as featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention.

It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake: (Not actually a Tallyrand quote)

Hours ahead of former President Bill Clinton’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention, the Daily Mail published photos Tuesday that show Clinton apparently receiving a neck massage from alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim Chauntae Davies following a previously-reported flight that Clinton and Epstein took to Africa together in 2002, with Davies telling the Mail that Clinton was a “perfect gentleman” on the trip.


Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a link to the Daily Mail article, and suggested that if Clinton brought it up during his Tuesday DNC speech, it “would be a lot more interesting then garbage we saw last night.” His father, President Trump, was also once friendly with Epstein and Maxwell. After Epstein’s 2019 arrest, however, Trump said he had not spoken to Epstein in over a decade.

I get that you need to throw some bones to the Clintonistas at the convention, but the prominence being afforded to Billary is counter-productive and stupid.

Beyond My Capability for Parody

The Republican National Convention will feature the St. Louis Ken and Karen at their convention.

I just can’t:

The Republican Party will hold its convention next week, and apart from some discussion of where exactly President Trump will deliver his address, almost no details have been made public about what it will look like. But on Monday, as Democrats were staging the first night of their convention, The Post’s Josh Dawsey reported this remarkable piece of news:

The St. Louis couple who became famous after wielding guns at protesters on their private street will be part of the largely digital Republican National Convention next week, Trump advisers said this week.

The couple — Patricia and Mark McCloskey — will appear on behalf of the president during the virtual weeklong event and express their support for him, the officials said.

As I said on Twitter, at this point if you told me that Derek Chauvin would be addressing the Republican convention from his jail cell, I’d barely be surprised.

This reality sucks.  I want off.

Took Them Long Enough

About 3 months ago, I wrote about how Gilead Pharmaceuticals, the company that is trying to sell Remdesivir as a Covid-19 cure, was suppressing another drug that is cheaper to make, and appears to have lower toxicity because it has less time left on its patent.

Well, the news is now beginning to hit the mainstream, if this story from ABC News is a part of a trend:

After initial excitement about the discovery of a promising treatment for some coronavirus patients, executives with Gilead Sciences are now facing harsh criticism over the initial business decisions they’ve made in the midst of a pandemic.

In recent days, state leaders and a government watchdog group have leveled complaints against the company for the price point it set for its antiviral drug remdesivir, a promising treatment shown to diminish recovery time in hospitalized coronavirus patients, and for allegedly not more quickly pursing a potentially cheaper alternative. Gilead holds exclusive manufacturing rights for remdesivir.

“Gilead, on the one hand, has a product that helps people” said Dr. Erin Fox, the senior pharmacy director at the University of Utah. “But on the other hand, it does feel like they’re taking advantage of the situation.”

Seriously, Dr. Fox, taking advantage of the situation is a core business strategy of rat-f%$#s like Gliead.

In a letter to Gilead executives and federal health officials last week, government watchdog group Public Citizen encouraged the company to investigate whether another of its patented antivirals, called GS-441524, could serve as a viable and less expensive substitute to remdesivir, even though it may make the company less money.

The health research experts at Public Citizen, joined in signing the letter by two cancer medicine experts at University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, argue that the cheaper drug “is very similar in chemical structure and activity to remdesivir” — and may even “offer significant advantages over remdesivir.” The watchdog group posits that Gilead may be withholding it because its patent expires five years sooner than does remdesivir’s, the company would stand to profit more if remdesivir remained the only available treatment.

“It is unclear why Gilead and federal scientists have not been pursuing GS-441524 as aggressively as remdesivir,” the letter continues, “but we cannot help but note that there are significant financial incentives tied to Gilead’s current patent holdings.”

I would note that there is a thriving black market for GS-441524, because it has been shown to be remarkably effective against an almost universally fatal condition in cats called Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which is caused by a ……… wait for it ……… a corona virus.

Gilead decided not to market GS-441524 to veterinarians because they were looking at human applications, and side-effects on cats might interfere with more lucrative human applications.

Let’s be clear:  Gilead wants to murder your cats.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

It appears that multiple entities in the US State Security Apparatus tracked millions of people’s phones without a warrant despite Supreme Court decisions requiring one:

The Secret Service paid for a product that gives the agency access to location data generated by ordinary apps installed on peoples’ smartphones, an internal Secret Service document confirms.

The sale highlights the issue of law enforcement agencies buying information, and in particular location data, that they would ordinarily need a warrant or court order to obtain. This contract relates to the sale of Locate X, a product from a company called Babel Street.

In March, tech publication Protocol reported that multiple government agencies signed millions of dollars worth of deals with Babel Street after the company launched its Locate X product. Multiple sources told the site that Locate X tracks the location of devices anonymously, using data harvested by popular apps installed on peoples’ phones.

Protocol found public records showed that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) purchased Locate X. One former Babel Street employee told the publication that the Secret Service used the technology. Now, the document obtained by Motherboard corroborates that finding.


“As part of my investigation into the sale of Americans’ private data, my office has pressed Babel Street for answers about where their data comes from, who they sell it to, and whether they respect mobile device opt-outs. Not only has Babel Street refused to answer questions over email, they won’t even put an employee on the phone,” Senator Ron Wyden told Motherboard in a statement.


Government agencies are increasingly at the end of that location data chain. In February The Wall Street Journal reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other agencies bought an app-based location data product from a different firm called Venntel. Senator Wyden’s office then found the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was also a Venntel customer.

Law enforcement agencies typically require a warrant or court order to compel a company to provide location data for an investigation. Many agencies have filed so-called reverse location warrants to ask Google to hand over information on what Android devices were in a particular area at a given time, for example. But an agency does not need to seek a warrant when it simply buys the data instead.


Senator Wyden is planning legislation that would block such purchases.

We should also forbid our intelligence agencies from having allies collect data that they are forbidden to collect, and the reverse for them.

The whole “Five Eyes” thing appears to be a way to allow intelligence agencies to spy on their own citizens by swapping who is looking at any given time.

A Toxic Combination of Stupidity and Entitlement

This is my volunteer, Martina Velasquez, who was shoved & accosted. #DebbieMustGo

— Jen Perelman For Congress (@JENFL23) August 16, 2020

Worse than a Crime, a Mistake

I am talking about the Queen of stupidity and entitlement, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is alleged to have assaulted a 16 year old girl who was canvassing for her primary opponent.

Even if the campaign worker WEREN’T a minor, it’s stupid for a candidate to get into an argument with an opponent’s campaign worker.

You just walk away.  It’s like wrestling with a pig:  You get dirty, and the pig loves it.

My guess is that this was primarily a screaming match, though a police report was filed, though the kid, Martina Velasquez, declined to file charges.

My guess is that it was a “Karen” moment with excessively overbearing personal space which could probably be described as shoving, but it does make me wonder if DWS’ internal polling is not a as strong as she would like, because this Karen is losing her sh%$ completely.


Japanese Prints in the New York Times

Google Being Evil

This is not a surprise. This is what Google does, leveraging its monopoly position on search, and now online advertising, to crush competitors:

As the antitrust drumbeat continues to pound on tech giants, with Reuters reporting comments today from the U.S. Justice Department that it’s moving “full-tilt” on an investigation of platform giants including Google parent Alphabet, startups in Europe’s travel sector are dialing up their allegations of anti-competitive behavior against the search giant.

Google has near complete grip on the search market in Europe, with a regional market share in excess of 90%, according to Statcounter. Unsurprisingly, industry sources say a majority of travel bookings start as a Google search — giving the tech giant huge leverage over the coronavirus-hit sector.

More than half a dozen travel startups in Germany are united in a shared complaint that Google is abusing its search dominance in a number of ways they argue are negatively impacting their businesses.

Complaints we’ve heard from multiple sources in online travel range from Google forcing its own data standards on ad partners to Google unfairly extracting partner data to power its own competing products on the cheap.

Startups are limited in how much detail they can provide on the record about Google’s processes because the company requires advertising partners to sign NDAs to access its ad products. But this week German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on antitrust complaints from a number of local startups — including experience booking platform GetYourGuide and vacation rental search engine HomeToGo — which are accusing the tech giant of stealing content and data.

The group is considering filing a cartel complaint against Google, per its report.

We’ve also heard from multiple sources in the European travel sector that Google has exhibited a pattern of trying to secure the rights to travel partners’ content and data through contracts and service agreements.

One source, who did not wish to be identified for fear of retaliation against their business, told us: “Each travel partner has certain specialities in their business model but overall the strategy of Google has been the same: Grab as much data from your partners and build competing products with that data.”


Google defends this type of expansion by saying it’s just making life easier for the user by putting sought for information even closer to their search query. But competitors contend the choices it’s making are far more insidious. Simply put, they’re better for Google’s bottom line — and will ultimately result in less choice and innovation for consumers — is the core argument. The key contention is Google is only able to do this because it wields vast monopoly power in search, which gives it unfair access to travel rivals’ content and data.

It’s certainly notable that Alphabet hasn’t felt the need to shell out to acquire any of the major travel booking platforms since its ITA acquisition. Instead, its market might allow it to repackage and monetize rival travel platforms’ data via an expanding array of its own vertical travel search products.

This is why the internet giants need to be regulated as utilities, and why we should consign Robert Bork’s corrupt and ahistorical antitrust analysis needs to be put in the dust-bin of history.

Vacation Cancelled

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is recalling the US House of Representatives early from its summer recess in a bid to protect the US Postal Service from efforts to block funding and suppress mail-in voting in November’s election.

Several states were also considering taking legal action to stop the service being run down to a level where it cannot deliver enough mail-in ballots in November, when almost half the country is expected to vote by post because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pelosi said the House would return later this week to vote on a bill prohibiting the USPS from changing its operations or service levels from what it had in place at the start of 2020. Previously, the House had not been scheduled to vote until 15 September.

She said late on Sunday that Donald Trump was trying to sabotage the election by manipulating the postal service, and called postmaster general Louis DeJoy “a complicit crony” by bringing in changes that degrades the service and delayed mail.


Her comments echoed those of Bernie Sanders, who told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting and his administration’s efforts to block funds for the US post office amounted to “a crisis for American democracy” ahead of the November presidential election.

Needless to say, Mitch McConnell has no plans to bring the Senate back into session, because he doesn’t give a sh%$.

Hate for Profit, Facebook Edition

This is no surprise.

Facebook is in the business of eyeballs, and action is taken only when content is so contemptible that it impacts the bottom line:

Facebook’s algorithm “actively promotes” Holocaust denial content according to an analysis that will increase pressure on the social media giant to remove antisemitic content relating to the Nazi genocide.

An investigation by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a UK-based counter-extremist organisation, found that typing “holocaust” in the Facebook search function brought up suggestions for denial pages, which in turn recommended links to publishers which sell revisionist and denial literature, as well as pages dedicated to the notorious British Holocaust denier David Irving.

The findings coincide with mounting international demands from Holocaust survivors to Facebook’s boss, Mark Zuckerberg, to remove such material from the site.


The ISD also discovered at least 36 Facebook groups with a combined 366,068 followers which are specifically dedicated to Holocaust denial or which host such content. Researchers found that when they followed public Facebook pages containing Holocaust denial content, Facebook recommended further similar content.

Jacob Davey, ISD’s senior research manager, said: “Facebook’s decision to allow Holocaust denial content to remain on its platform is framed under the guise of protecting legitimate historical debate, but this misses the reason why people engage in Holocaust denial in the first place.

“Denial of the Holocaust is a deliberate tool used to delegitimise the suffering of the Jewish people and perpetuate long-standing antisemitic tropes, and when people explicitly do this it should be seen as an act of hatred,” he added.

Facebook’s basic algorithm is, “If it increases clicks, it makes us money,” which is why we see it supporting genocide against the Rohinga in Myanmar, Muslims in India, etc.

Zuck don’t care, he never has.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

Kevin Alfaro was at a Black Lives Matter protest in Nutley, New Jersey, when his ordeal began.

The anti-racism demonstration, prompted by the police killing of George Floyd, was met by a group of mostly white counter-protesters, some chanting “all lives matter”, and Alfaro felt the police were treating the rightwing crowd favorably.

In a climate where anti-racism protesters have been met with violence from police, Alfaro took a photo of one officer, and posted it to Twitter. “If anyone knows who this bitch is, throw his info under this tweet,” Alfaro wrote.


Alfaro had been charged with cyber-harassment, a fourth-degree felony, and a charge that carries a prison sentence of up to 18 months.

It fit a pattern. Since protests against racism and police brutality began protesters across the country have been hit with punitive, felony charges for acts of civil disobedience, in what civil rights experts say is a “suppression tactic” aimed at quashing the anti-racism movement.

In New York City, a man was charged after allegedly shouting through a loudspeaker in a police officer’s ear. In Miami, an activist was hit with a strong-arm robbery charge after being accused of stealing pro-Donald Trump flags. Perhaps the most egregious case is in Utah, where a group faces up to life in prison after allegedly throwing paint on a building.


In Salt Lake City, Utah, police say Madalena McNeil bought red paint at a Home Depot before she and three other activists threw it on a district attorney’s office, and broke windows, during a 9 July protest.

The group was charged with felony criminal mischief and riot charges, and prosecutors added a “charging enhancement” claiming the protesters operated as a gang. That means the group could face life in prison.

The prosecutors and the cops are using their positions and abusing the law to prevent scrutiny of their actions.

It is whistle-blower retaliation, and in many places it is a crime, though no one will ever be charged, since those making the decision are those who would be targeted.