Month: February 2021

Oh, Canada

After discovering that teachers were leaving classroom windows open to improve ventalation and reduce the spread of Covid 19, Officials in Abbotsford, B.C. Canada brought in contractors to screw the windows shut

So, just in case you are wondering, asshole incompetent school administrators appear to be a universal thing:

Officials at a school in Abbotsford, B.C., had windows in the building either screwed shut or blocked from opening wider than a few inches after teachers began using them to compensate for poor ventilation, says the Abbotsford Teachers’ Union.

Teachers at Godson Elementary School had assumed a proper ventilation system was installed throughout the entire school — to maintain airflow and reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission — but they were shocked to learn in December that this wasn’t the case in an older wing of the building.

After teachers began opening windows wide to increase airflow in the affected classrooms — despite cold temperatures outside — the school district responded by sending contractors to fix the issue.

The district says those contractors found safety issues with the windows and partially sealed them.


On Feb. 14, health officials ordered one division at Godson elementary to self-isolate because of COVID exposure.


The wing with no ventilation system houses some 200 students and staff in 18 rooms.

“To start by screwing the windows closed — was instantly a large stress,” said Brooks.

“It was a great surprise to the staff. The day that it happened the teachers were very upset.”

She said the district supplied small air purifiers to process classroom air, but described it as “Band Aid” solution.

I think that this could be settled with a friendly game of hockey between the parents and the teachers, with the school administrators being the puck.

Support Your Local Police

It turns out that the Capitol Insurrection rioter who attempted to gouge out the eyes of a Capitol Police officer was a cop.

This is a definition of, “Professional Courtesy,” I was previously unaware of:

A retired NYPD officer turned himself in to the FBI this Monday for his role in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, after being accused of using a pipe to attack Capitol police officers.

According to NBC New York, Thomas Webster was once assigned to work perimeter security at City Hall and at Gracie Mansion, which is the mayor’s official residence.


Webster was also known as the “eye gouger” on social media, due to images showing him allegedly jabbing his thumb into the face of a Capitol police officer.

Please, no bail for this guy.

It Was Racism that Killed the Beast

Dan Froomkin has a must-read analysis on the testimony of former Capitol Police Chief Steve Sund before Congress.

In it he conclusively shows that Sund is deliberately deceptive to Congress, focusing on a poorly distributed FBI memo (the January 5 memo) from the day before the assault on the Capitol, while misleading about a far more detailed and extensive report from his own Capitol police from two days earlier, which was given to him, where his own intelligence unit warned about the very real possibility of a actions by the protesters where, “Congress itself is the target.”

I agree with Froomkin’s assessment:  Lund’s lackadaisical response stems not from bad intelligence, but from racism:

Steven Sund, the disgraced former chief of the Capitol Police Department, was explicitly warned in a Jan. 3 memo from his own intelligence unit that thousands of desperate, violence-prone Trump supporters were planning to target Congress on Jan. 6, encouraged by the president himself.

The memo didn’t really say much more than was already obvious to anyone paying attention, but it was authoritative, detailed, and, of course, prescient.

Sund waved it off. He didn’t bother to share it with the rank and file. He didn’t equip his frontline officers with tear gas, or other non-lethal crowd-control weapons, or riot gear. Instead, he sent them out in street uniforms to man barricades made of bike racks, and get the shit beaten out of them, in one case fatally. He let the Capitol fall to a mob.

But in his first public comments on Tuesday, Sund had the breath-taking gall to blame the breach of the Capitol not on his own poor decision-making, but on a “clear lack of accurate and complete intelligence across several federal agencies.”


The Feb. 5 FBI report was shared with the Capitol Police intelligence unit. Sund said he didn’t get it, however, and under leading questioning from Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon blamed the unit’s director, John Donahue, for that.


Sund’s story is that because of flawed intelligence, he judged the danger posed by the Jan. 6 protests as similar in scale to that posed by previous pro-Trump rallies nearby, none of which amounted to much.

But take a few moments to read this one, “redacted” excerpt from the internal Jan. 3 memo that the Post made public. Sund’s excuses fall apart. (The public really needs to see the full, unredacted memo, by the way.)

Due to the tense political environment following the 2020 election, the threat of disruptive actions or violence cannot be ruled out. Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election. This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th. As outlined above, there has been a worrisome call for protesters to come to these events armed and there is the possibility that protesters may be inclined to become violent. Further, unlike the events on November 14, 2020, and December 12, 2020, there are several more protests scheduled on January 6, 2021, and the majority of them will be on Capitol grounds. The two protests expected to be the largest of the day – the Women for American First protest on the Ellipse and the Stop the Steal protest in Areas 8 and 9 — may draw thousands of participants and both have been promoted by President Trump himself. The Stop the Steal protest in particular does not have a permit, but several high profile speakers, including Members of Congress are expected to speak at the event. This combined with Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence, may lead to significantly dangerous situations for law enforcement and the general public alike.

Imagine reading that memo and failing to put your own officers on red alert; failing to prepare them to repel what seemed like an inevitable onslaught.

The closest any senator came to asking about that was Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. “It’s not that we had inadequate resources, but a failure to deploy the people that we were supposed to,” he told Sund. He noted that Sund had in a previous letter acknowledged knowing that white supremacist groups and other extremist groups were expected on Jan. 6 and might become violent.


As Rep. Cori Bush – a veteran of many Black Lives Matter protests – put it on MSNBC the very evening of the insurrection: “Had it been people who look like me, had it been the same amount of people, but had they been Black and brown, we wouldn’t have made it up those steps… we would have been shot, we would have been tear gassed.”

The reporting on this element of the story – why Sund and the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, also older white males, weren’t particularly alarmed by the MAGA horde – has been terrible. Nearly nonexistent.

The one exception has been an article by Joaquin Sapien and Joshua Kaplan for ProPublica, based on interviews with 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers. They reported:

The interviews… revealed officers’ concerns about disparities in the way the force prepared for Black Lives Matter demonstrations versus the pro-Trump protests on Jan. 6. Officers said the Capitol Police force usually plans intensively for protests, even if they are deemed unlikely to grow violent. Officers said they spent weeks working 12- or 16-hour days, poised to fight off a riot, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police — even though intelligence suggested there was not much danger from protesters.

“We had intel that nothing was going to happen — literally nothing,” said one former official with direct knowledge of planning for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. “The response was, ‘We don’t trust the intel.’”

By contrast, for much of the force, Jan. 6 began like any other day.

“We normally have pretty good information regarding where these people are and how far they are from the Capitol,” said Keith McFaden, a former Capitol Police officer and union leader who retired from the force following the riot. “We heard nothing that day.”

But nobody at the Senate hearing even mentioned the issue of race. Not once.

Nobody asked Sund to compare and contrast his preparedness for Jan. 6 with his preparedness for Black Lives Matter protests that weren’t even nearby. Nobody asked why Sund didn’t give front-line officers tear gas. Nobody asked Sund or the two sergeants-at-arms if the white privilege they shared with the mob had made it seem unthreatening to them, unlike the “other”.

This was willful blindness driven by (at best) privilege, and the Congressmen questioning should have (metaphorically) strung up Sund by his entrails over this.

He just lied to Congress, and he deliberately hung men under his command out to dry, but the story of the mainstream media is going to be about how this mook is a victim of circumstance.

I Hope That This Is Illegal

Not that anyone will be prosecuted for it, because it is Alabama, but Amazon offering $2,000 “Resignation Bonuses” so that it can replace potentially pro-union workers with scabs ahead of the vote is skeevy as hell.

Bribes in union elections are expressly forbidden under the NLRA, and I am pretty sure that this is a bribe not to vote, particularly since they are giving the impression that they will hiring folks back after the union election: (Yeah, sure)

As the historic union election at Amazon in Alabama heats up, Amazon is pulling all the tricks to stop the union.

In violation of Amazon’s social distancing policy, Amazon has forced workers to attend anti-union meetings and sent workers constant text messages daily, hinting that a union could possibly lead to the warehouse closing. Amazon has even gotten the local authorities to shorten the time of stoplights outside of the plant so that union organizers can’t hand out pro-union literature to workers passing in their cars.

Now, Amazon is doing something that labor observers have never seen before in a union election; they are offering $2,000 “resignation bonuses” to quit.

Last night, workers throughout the plant received emails offering them bonuses if they simply quit their jobs. The emails offer workers, who worked for 2 peak seasons, at least $2,000 to quit. If workers have been there at least 3 peak seasons, they are offering them $3,000.

Some Amazon workers, who dislike their job at the warehouse, may find the bonuses a tempting bridge to quit their job and seek something better. Workers are even being told that if they quit now that they could regain their jobs later after the union election.

However, if workers quit now, they won’t be eligible to vote in the ongoing union election. In the meantime, many labor observers expect that Amazon will seek to hire replacements that will vote solidly anti-union.

“That should be illegal, how can you pay someone to resign,” says 48-year-old Black Amazon worker Jennifer Bates “They are going all the way, they are pulling out all the stops”.

Under federal labor law, the bonuses could be considered a bribe and could lead to the union election being thrown out. Employers are strictly forbidden from improving the material conditions of workers in the lead up to elections and the “resignation bonuses” could be grounds for the union to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to order a new union election if RWDSU loses this round.

Keeping this in litigation for the next decade is a part of Amazon’s strategy.

You won’t stop this without frog marching senior executives out of corporate offices in handcuffs.

Do Not Imagine that Mark Zuckerberg is Your Friend

Whether he agrees with Alex Jones and the rest of his wacko, my parents are first cousins, X-Files wannabe, black helicopter, tinfoil hat wearing, stupid, dim-witted, thinks pro wrestling is real, lunatics*, or just thinks that they are good for his bottom line, Mark Zuckerberg’s choice to put right wing nut Joel Kaplan in charge of Facebook policy is an indication that Zuckerberg is dangerous and needs to be brought to heel.

Case in point, when Facebook finally came up with a policy to deal with fabulists fomenting violence, Mark Zuckerberg killed it to make sure that Alex Jones still had a platform.

I am not sure how to handle such issues on social media, but making sure that sociopaths like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandburg are not making what are literally life or death decisions about terrorist groups on the basis of web site engagement seems to me to be a good start:

In April 2019, Facebook was preparing to ban one of the internet’s most notorious spreaders of misinformation and hate, Infowars founder Alex Jones. Then CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened.

Jones had gained infamy for claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was a “giant hoax,” and that the teenage survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting were “crisis actors.” But Facebook had found that he was also relentlessly spreading hate against various groups, including Muslims and trans people. That behavior qualified him for expulsion from the social network under the company’s policies for “dangerous individuals and organizations,” which required Facebook to also remove any content that expressed “praise or support” for them.

But Zuckerberg didn’t consider the Infowars founder to be a hate figure, according to a person familiar with the decision, so he overruled his own internal experts and opened a gaping loophole: Facebook would permanently ban Jones and his company — but would not touch posts of praise and support for them from other Facebook users. This meant that Jones’ legions of followers could continue to share his lies across the world’s largest social network.

“Mark personally didn’t like the punishment, so he changed the rules,” a former policy employee told BuzzFeed News, noting that the original rule had already been in use and represented the product of untold hours of work between multiple teams and experts.


Zuckerberg’s “more nuanced policy” set off a cascading effect, the two former employees said, which delayed the company’s efforts to remove right-wing militant organizations such as the Oath Keepers, which were involved the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. It is also a case study in Facebook’s willingness to change its rules to placate America’s right wing and avoid political backlash.

Internal documents obtained by BuzzFeed News and interviews with 14 current and former employees show how the company’s policy team — guided by Joel Kaplan, the vice president of global public policy, and Zuckerberg’s whims — has exerted outsize influence while obstructing content moderation decisions, stymieing product rollouts, and intervening on behalf of popular conservative figures who have violated Facebook’s rules.

In December, a former core data scientist wrote a memo titled, “Political Influences on Content Policy.” Seen by BuzzFeed News, the memo stated that Kaplan’s policy team “regularly protects powerful constituencies” and listed several examples, including: removing penalties for misinformation from right-wing pages, blunting attempts to improve content quality in News Feed, and briefly blocking a proposal to stop recommending political groups ahead of the US election.


An integrity researcher who worked on Facebook’s efforts to protect the democratic process and rein in radicalization said the company caused direct harm to users by rejecting product changes due to concerns of political backlash.

“Out of fears over potential public and policy stakeholder responses, we are knowingly exposing users to risks of integrity,” they wrote in an internal note seen by BuzzFeed News. They quit in August.

Those most affected by Jones’ rhetoric have taken notice, too. Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was the youngest victim of the Sandy Hook shooting, called the revelation that Zuckerberg weakened penalties facing the Infowars founder “disheartening, but not surprising.” He said the company had made a promise to do better in dealing with hate and hoaxes following a 2018 letter from HONR Network, his organization for survivors of mass casualty events. Yet Facebook continues to fail to remove harmful content.

“At some point,” Pozner told BuzzFeed News, “Zuckerberg has to be held responsible for his role in allowing his platform to be weaponized and for ensuring that the ludicrous and the dangerous are given equal importance as the factual.”


When Kaplan joined Facebook to lead its DC operation in 2011, he had the connections and pedigree the company needed to court the American right. A former clerk for conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, he served as a White House deputy chief of staff under President George W. Bush after participating in the Brooks Brothers riot during the 2000 Florida presidential election dispute. During a Senate confirmation hearing in 2003 for a post with the Office of Management and Budget, Kaplan was questioned about his role in the event, which sought to stop the tallying of votes during the Florida recount.

Though he initially maintained a low public profile at Facebook, Kaplan — COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Harvard classmate and former boyfriend — was valued by Zuckerberg for his understanding of GOP policymakers and conservative Americans, who the CEO believed were underrepresented by a liberal-leaning leadership team and employee base.

(Emphasis mine)

Kaplan is a man who literally pretended to be a Florida resident and then used the threat of violence to shut down vote counting in Miami/Dade County in the 2000 election, but because he went to Harvard (Zuckerberg’s alma mater) and dated Sheryl Sandberg, so because he’s “someone like them”, and because they just ……… don’t ……… care, this individual is  Facebook’s VP of global public policy.

That this man has the ear of Mark Zuckerberg says a lot of things about the CEO of Facebook, none of it good.

The most important thing to note here is not that Kaplan is a bad person, but that Zuckerberg is a horrible person, and a horribly dangerous one as well.

*Sorry, I think that I just channeled the con Denis Leary.
Sorry, I think that I just channeled the non even a bit of a comedian Hillary Clinton.

Because They Cannot Resist Hippie Punching

Joe Biden is looking to appoint Rahm Emanuel ambassador to Japan.

I get it.  Rahm was once an important member of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment), but there is no reason to appoint him to anything.

He is so incredibly awful that he was forced out as mayor, and under his watch, the police literally operated a black torture site, he sold his city to any well dressed charlatan with a few buck of campaign donations.

The only reason for Rahm to be given a position like ambassador to Japan, where, let’s be clear, he won’t have anything substantive to do, career bureaucrats in the US and Japanese have been handling the important stuff for years, is to show progressives in the Democratic Party that they are neither respected nor valued:

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears poised to take on a high-profile ambassadorship for President Biden, a step likely to trigger contention with progressives who’ve balked at him taking a Cabinet role.

Emanuel is the front-runner to be Biden’s nominee as ambassador to Japan, sources familiar with the matter told The Hill.

He’s also being considered for the post in China, but sources said Japan is the more likely landing spot for former President Obama’s chief of staff. Former State Department official Nicholas Burns is the likely front-runner to end up in Beijing.

The diplomatic role in Asia would mark a high-profile return to the federal government for Emanuel, who built a reputation as a brash but effective political tactician in the Democratic Party.

Emanuel led Democrats to the House majority in 2006, working closely with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to return the party to power for the first time since the Gingrich revolution in that cycle.

What he has is a gift for self-promotion.

He dropped millions on candidates who stood for nothing, and lost, while Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy generated seats that Rahm wrote off completely.

Furthermore, “Brash but effective,” is the WORST POSSIBLE combination for dealing with Japan.

Brash does not play well in Japan, though they do understand that the position is a political plum:

Japan has been seen as a top diplomatic post. Past ambassadors to Japan include the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale, the legendary GOP senator Howard Baker and Caroline Kennedy.

See what I mean?

These are people who understood their role was not to make (or even implement) policy, but to show that the ambassadorship is prestigious, and hence the relationship is valued.

Even if we weren’t dealing with a crass and venal incompetent who had spent his political life failing up, he is spectacularly unsuited to this position.

Pass the Popcorn

Without comment, the Supreme Court has rejected Donald Trump’s bid to conceal his tax returns from the Manhattan prosecutor:

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected former president Donald Trump’s last-chance effort to keep his private financial records from the Manhattan district attorney, ending a long and drawn-out legal battle.

After a four-month delay, the court denied Trump’s motion in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents.

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has won every stage of the legal fight — including the first round at the Supreme Court — but has yet to receive the records he says are necessary for a grand jury investigation into whether the president’s companies violated state law.

Vance responded to the court decision with a three-word tweet: “The work continues.”


Vance’s inquiry is one of two known criminal investigations involving the former president. The other, led by the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, focuses on Trump’s controversial coversations with state officials amid his failed effort to overturn that state’s election result.

Trump has waged an extraordinary battle to keep private his tax records, which every other modern president has released as an expected part of seeking the presidency. The court’s action does not mean Trump’s tax records are to become public — Vance has said they will be protected by grand jury secrecy rules — but is likely to accelerate an investigation that might be Trump’s biggest legal threat.


Forensic accounting experts from FTI Consulting are expected to assist prosecutors in assessing whether the Trump Organization manipulated property values for tax breaks, or to obtain favorable loan rates, The Washington Post previously reported.

The investigation is fairly developed, but the tax returns are an integral part of the picture. The Supreme Court order — allowing Vance to execute the subpoena — could mean a lot of work is ahead for investigators as the records are voluminous, spanning eight years.


The current fight is a follow-up to a July decision by the high court that the president is not immune from a criminal investigation while he holds office.


Vance is seeking eight years of the former president’s tax returns and related documents as part of what was initially an investigation into alleged hush-money payments made ahead of the 2016 election to two women who said they had affairs with Trump years before — claims Trump denies. Investigators have indicated they want to determine whether efforts were made to conceal the payments on tax documents by labeling them as legal expenses.

I’m expecting the investigations to reveal that Trump is basically broke, despite the millions that he managed to extract from the government and government supplicants.

I will love to see him broken like a yearling horse, and I know that he’s going to whine about conspiracies, but, “That’s what I thought you’d say, you dumb f%$#ing horse.*

*Credit where credit is due, I am quoting comedian John Mullaney.

IP Insanity in One Ironic Twist

When I was your age, this is how we did memes!

Payback, Bitches!

A concert being live streamed on Twitch had its music replaced with 8-bit folk music because it included music from Metallica.

The interesting thing about this is that it was Metallica playing Metallica, which, considering their actions during the whole Napster affair, is rather amusing:

Long time copyright watchers know that Metallica sullied its reputation with tons of fans when it was the first band to sue the file sharing upstart Napster back in 2000 (and also sued three universities for “not blocking Napster”). The band’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, became an outspoken critic of file sharing and the internet, the early face of super wealthy musicians whining about the internet changing the way they did things, leading to the classic Money Good! Napster Bad! meme.

Over the years, Metallica has tried to do more to “embrace” the internet, but almost every time, fans jump up to remind them about what assholes they were towards the early internet experience.

And that brings us around to Friday evening, when Metallica was set to play a streamed “live” show to kick off BlizzCon (an event for video game company Blizzard). The event was streamed live on Twitch, which has had some copyright problems of late. It appears that as Metallica was playing, and the Twitch Gaming channel was streaming the concert, someone realized that there might be a copyright problem. As first called out by Rod Breslau, the channel inserted 8-bit folks music over Metallica’s live performance to avoid a situation that, uh, Metallica might sue over.

This is sweet, sweet payback, and I expect this to get memed to death.

Not a Surprise

It appears that Boeing 777 -200 and -300 airliners with the PW 4000 series engines have been grounded world wide.

Given that two of these aircraft have had an uncontained fan failure in the past there months, this seems to be a sensible precaution:

Boeing has recommended grounding more than 120 of its 777 jets worldwide following a catastrophic engine failure on a United Airlines plane in Denver.

The company said on Sunday night that airlines using the same type of engine that scattered debris across Denver before making an emergency landing should suspend operations until inspections could be carried out.

Flight 328 was flying from Denver International Airport to Honolulu with 231 passengers and 10 crew on board on Saturday when one engine failed shortly after take-off. Police in Broomfield, Colorado posted photos of pieces of debris from the plane near houses and other buildings. There were no reports of any injuries on the ground or among the passengers.

United Airlines said it was temporarily grounding all 24 of its Boeing 777s on active duty, and Japan’s aviation regulator swiftly followed suit, ordering Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) to cease flying 777s that use the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines while it considered whether to take additional measures. Japan said ANA operated 19 of that kind and JAL operated 13.


“We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident,” the FAA saidin a statement from its administrator, Steve Dickson . “Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes.


The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said on Sunday an initial examination of the Denver engine showed two fan blades had become fractured. The voice cockpit and flight data recorders have been taken to a lab in Washington for analysis, it said.

Japan’s transport ministry said early on Monday a JAL flight from Naha to Tokyo had to return to the airport on 4 December last year due to a malfunction in the left engine. That plane is the same age as the 26-year-old United Airlines plane involved in Saturday’s incident.

 My guess is some sort of fatigue or stress corrosion cracking.

Of Course They Are

In response to surprise Senate and Presidential campaign defeats, Georgia Republicans are trying to make voting as difficult as possible.

When your policies are bad, the response of the GOP is not to change those policies, or even to try to sell their policies better.  Their response is to pick and choose their voters, because they are a bunch of racist fascists:

Georgia Republicans have unveiled sweeping new legislation that would make it dramatically harder to vote in the state, following an election with record turnout and surging participation among Black voters.

The measure is one of the most brazen efforts to make it harder to vote in America in recent years. The bill would block officials from offering early voting on Sundays, a day traditionally used by Black churches to mobilize voters as part of a “souls to the polls” effort. It would place new limits on the use of mail-in ballot dropboxes, restrict who can handle an absentee ballot, and require voters to provide their driver’s license number or a copy of other identification with their application for a mail-in ballot. It would also require voters to provide the same driver’s license information on the mail-in ballot itself or the last four digits of their social security number if they do not have an acceptable ID.

The bill gives voters less time to request and return mail-in ballots, not only moving up the deadline to return an application but also limiting requests to start 78 days ahead of an election instead of the current 180. It requires election officials to reject ballots mistakenly cast in the wrong precinct and bans organizers from offering food or water to voters standing in line to cast a ballot.

“With exacting precision, the bill targets voters of color,” said Nse Ufot, chief of the New Georgia Project, one of the groups that mobilized voters of color in Georgia. “Georgia Republicans saw what happens when Black voters are empowered and show up at the polls, and now they’re launching a concerted effort to suppress the votes and voices of Black Georgians.”

Working to find common ground with these people is a fools errand.

They only care about power (theirs) and hatred (of those who do not look or pray like them).

Rule 1 of Regulating Businesses: Businesses Will Lie to Avoid Regulation

Rule 2 is, “See Rule 1.”

Case in point, when faced with the prospect of regulation enforcing a right to repair, John Deere lied when it said that future products would allow for more maintenance to be performed by the farmers themselves.

These products are out now, and they are not user-repairable, and intentionally designed not to be user repairable:

In September 2018, a trade group that represents John Deere and a series of other tractor and agricultural equipment manufacturers made a promise intended to stave off increasing pressure from their customers and to prevent lawmakers from passing what they said would be onerous repair regulations. They vowed that, starting January 1, 2021, Deere and other tractor manufacturers would make repair tools, software, and diagnostics available to the masses.

This “statement of principles,” as it was called at the time, was nominally designed to address concerns from farmers that their tractors were becoming increasingly unrepairable due to pervasive software-based locks that artificially prevented them from fixing their equipment. As Motherboard repeatedly reported at the time, farmers were being forced to go to “authorized” John Deere dealerships and service centers to perform otherwise simple repairs that they could no longer do because they were locked out of their equipment and needed special software to unlock it. To get around this, some farmers had begun hacking their tractors with cracked software from Ukraine.

A host of states were considering “right to repair” legislation that would have compelled Deere and other manufacturers to abandon these artificial software locks, to make repair tools and guides available to the general public, and to, broadly speaking, allow farmers to fix the tractors they owned.

Deere, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (the lobbying group that represents Deere and several other large manufacturers), and the Equipment Dealers Association announced this “commitment” to farmers in order to prevent any of this legislation from passing; the thinking was that if manufacturers like Deere provided some of the things that right to repair legislation would have required, they could explain to lawmakers that these bills (which provided more consumer control) weren’t actually necessary.

This was a big deal in the farm world. In California, The Far West Equipment Dealers Association (which represents authorized dealers in seven western states) signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the California Farm Bureau that enshrined this statement of principles, printed out a giant poster of it, and then displayed it in a signing ceremony and photo-op. It was seen as a grand compromise, and farmers were the winners.


It is now three years later. The agreement is supposed to be in effect. No right to repair legislation has been passed. Deere, the dealers, and the manufacturers got what they wanted. And, yet, farmers are still struggling to get anything promised in the agreement.


Kerry Sheehan, iFixit’s head of US policy, points out that currently, the “only John Deere repair tools we can find” are these children’s toys.

David Ward, a spokesperson for the AEM, the manufacturers’ lobbying and trade group that often represents John Deere, told Motherboard that “Equipment manufacturers support farmers right to repair their equipment. Comprehensive repair and diagnostic information is now available for the vast majority of the tractor and combine market through authorized dealers. While we do not track it, specific information on pricing varies based on manufacturer.” A follow-up email from Motherboard that asked if he could point to a single instance where this is actually the case, or a single manufacturer that explains to farmers where they can get this information or these tools, was unreturned.


New sensors and software in tractors have led to this problem. For decades, many farmers did their own repairs. By-and-large, they can no longer do this: the proliferation of onboard computers and fancy equipment in newer models of tractors and combine harvesters has made it hard for farmers to repair the tools they need to keep the country fed.


The problem is that farmers often don’t have access to the diagnostic software and repair tools they need to make the fix. According to U.S. PIRG, the John Deere S760 combine harvester has 125 different computer sensors in it. If those sensors start throwing an error code, the combine won’t run and the farmer doesn’t have immediate access to the tools they need to fix the problem.

“It doesn’t matter how industrious they are, what their planting window looks like, or if their tractor goes down right as weather threatens to destroy their crop—modern farming equipment is designed so that farmers need to call the dealership to repair their machines,” O’Reilly said.


The problem with new machines is so bad that farmers are taking drastic action to repair their own equipment. Some have become hackers, using software and tools they’ve found online to diagnose and repair their equipment. Others are buying 40-year old tractors because they still function and they’re more repairable than new models.

As an aside, these “40-year old tractors” are now selling for more money than their newer counterparts.

As the problem has become more pronounced, legislators are trying to pass right-to-repair laws that would help farmers repair their own equipment. LC 1562 in Montana is one example, a simple piece of legislation that would make it easier for farmers to access the information they need to make repairs.

“What the bill does, overall, is give the owner the ability to purchase the diagnostic tools to make repairs themselves, saving time and money,” Katie Sullivan, a Missoula area state representative said during the town hall. “It supports farmers who don’t have the time to wait for mechanics or have the extra money to spend just to fix a small issue.”


Deere has claimed that it can’t allow farmers access to the computer system at this level because it’s a security risk and might lead to farmers breaking federal law. “Sometimes, these modifications can be altered and now the machine is not functioning as it was intended,” Vancil said at a webinar about right to repair with the Florida Farm Bureau last week. “It also starts getting into some areas, if you’re talking about emissions, that get into the area where you start having federal topics being introduced from an emissions standpoint.”

This is the same reasoning used by car manufacturers in their attempts to hamstring independent car repair shops.

It is, and remains, complete bullsh%$.


It would not be difficult for John Deere and other manufacturers to comply with a right to repair law, or, at the very least, to abide by its own promise. Europe has had some right to repair regulations which require “standardized access to repair and maintenance information (RMI) systems to provide repair and maintenance information for vehicles used in agriculture and forestry” since 2013, and manufacturers comply with those.

And so the solution in the United States seems like it’s going to have to be the same. Not a promise from manufacturers and dealers, but legislation with the force of law.

As is always the case, with profit driven businesses.

They will not voluntarily cede a revenue stream, even if it is unfair and abusive, until such time as they are forced to through statute or regulation.

Bad Day at the Office

Bad day at the office

Not what I want to see out the window

United Airlines flight 328 from Denver to Honolulu suffered an uncontained engine failure shortly after takeoff, shedding debris over a Denver neighborhood, and requiring a return and emergency landing back at Denver International Airport (DEN).

No injuries have been reported, but I’m pretty sure that some of the passengers and crew will have nightmares over this for years:

A United Airlines flight with 241 people on board experienced engine failure over a suburb of Boulder, Colo., on Saturday afternoon, shedding debris across three neighborhoods before landing safely in Denver, the authorities said.

There were no injuries reported, officials said.

The flight, No. 328, took off from Denver International Airport at 12:15 p.m. local time, said Alex Renteria, an airport spokeswoman.

The F.A.A. said in a statement that the plane, a Boeing 777-200, experienced “a right-engine failure” shortly after takeoff and that it was aware of reports of debris “in the vicinity of the airplane’s flight path.”

The flight was headed from Denver to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu when the episode happened.


The police in Broomfield, Colo., which is about 15 miles southeast of Boulder, said unspecified pieces of the plane fell across three neighborhoods around 1:08 p.m. local time.


In a video on Twitter, passengers can be heard cheering as the plane safely lands.

Something important to note here, in December, a JAL 777 of similar vintage with the same engines also suffered a very similar engine failure, so I would expect that any Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine would be getting some pretty intense scrutiny right now.

Today in Evil

After discovering that municipal broadband is better and cheaper than what you can get from the incumbent carriers, House Republicans introduce legislation banning the practice, because there is not enough opportunity for graft campaign donations the private sector when the government does the job better and cheaper.

Everyone hates their private ISP, the Dems should run on this, but the moderates want to continue to extract protection money campaign donations from the Baby Bells as well:

House Republicans this week proposed legislation that would ban the creation of municipal broadband networks at a federal level, and shutter networks in areas where some private competition exists – purportedly to improve internet access across the US.

Dubbed the CONNECT Act (Communities Overregulating Networks Need Economic Competition Today), the bill [PDF] says: “A State or political subdivision thereof may not provide or offer for sale to the public, a telecommunications provider, or to a commercial provider of broadband internet access service, retail or wholesale broadband internet access service.”

The CONNECT Act would also ban states from operating municipal broadband networks in areas where two or more private operators exist. The language here is fairly vague, and it doesn’t state how affected operators should dispose of their existing infrastructure. It’s also fairly limited about what constitutes a “private operator”, deferring only to the barebones definition in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).


Twenty-two states have passed laws that either prohibit municipal broadband entirely, or impose restrictions that make municipal broadband projects significantly harder to launch and operate. Minnesota, for example, requires municipalities to obtain a supermajority (65 per cent) of voters in a referendum before providing telecommunications services. Montana and Pennsylvania only permit projects if there is no private competition. Texas and Missouri have outright bans on municipal broadband.

The Democratic response should be to pass legislation preempting the state bans and offering subsidies (which would be smaller than those given to the likes of AT&T and Verizon) for the establishment of municipal broadband.

They should, but they won’t.

It’s Like Having Your Mother-in-Law Drive off a Cliff in Your Brand New Car

So, the worst “Democrat” in the Senate, Joe Manchin, has come out against Biden’s choice of Neera Tanden, the worst think tank drone ever to come out of the Clinton machine, to head of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

What’s more, he has done so for the worst possible reason, because Tanden is mean to Republicans sometimes. (Her venom toward Republicans is her ONLY redeeming feature)

The awfulness of the distinguished gentleman from West Virginia is self evident, but I’ll list a bill of particulars on Tanden: (It’s an updatepast from an old post if it sounds familiar)

I am hoping for a way that they can both lose, because neither of them deserve a win ever: 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Friday that he would oppose Neera Tanden‘s nomination to head the White House budget office, potentially sinking her Senate confirmation.

Manchin cited Tanden’s harsh tweets about Republicans as the reason for his opposition.

“I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget,” Manchin said in a statement. “For this reason, I cannot support her nomination.”>br>

“Neera Tanden is an accomplished policy expert who would be an excellent Budget Director and we look forward to the committee votes next week and to continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties,” Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement distributed to reporters in response to Manchin’s remarks.

No, she’s a vacuous party hack, not that there’s anything wrong with that. 

The problem is that cannot keep good staff, has never had an original idea in her life, and has an affection for bad policy and bad politics that rivles that of her old boss, Hillary Clinton.

In a CNN interview Friday afternoon, Sanders was non-committal about supporting Tanden’s nomination, saying that he would speak to her next week about “what she wants to do.” Sanders reiterated that he was less concerned with her previous rhetoric than her future actions.

And Bernie Sanders is the only person in this entire sordid affair who is behaving like a mensch, probably because he is the only one in this entire sordid affair who values anything beyond his own career.

Get, Ya Think?

Why yes, I am inclined to believe that, “Release of intelligence on Khashoggi killing could push U.S.-Saudi relations to new lows,” as well it should.

They murdered a US resident in their consulate, and the Clown Crown Prince ordered it. 

It makes for awkward conversations during the cocktails:

Facing court cases and its own promises of transparency, the Biden administration is about to release a long-sought U.S. intelligence report concluding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The report, an unclassified summary of findings across the intelligence community produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), will be made public as early as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Plans for the release come as U.S.-Saudi relations have tumbled to a new low in recent weeks, with the administration canceling arms sales, criticizing human rights abuses and the harassment of dissidents, and pledging to “recalibrate” ties with the kingdom.

The administration has said it will continue to supply Saudi Arabia — the world’s biggest customer for U.S. weaponry — with the means to defend itself against regional adversaries, including Iran and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, and has indicated it wants to continue a robust counterterrorism partnership.

But it has also made clear that it will, in contrast to its predecessor, press the Saudis toward a diplomatic end to their war in Yemen and to moderate their own extremism, and it will not allow Riyadh to interfere with its plans to rejoin the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran.


President Donald Trump made Saudi Arabia a linchpin of his administration’s Middle East policy. Choosing Riyadh as the destination for his first presidential trip abroad in 2017, he hailed the kingdom as the leader of the Muslim world and a major profit-maker for the U.S. defense industry.

Khashoggi, a self-exiled Saudi journalist who wrote critically of the kingdom’s leadership from his home in Virginia, including in columns for The Washington Post, was brutally murdered in October 2018. Lured to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork required for his planned marriage to a Turkish citizen, he was drugged and his body dismembered by Saudi agents, according to investigations by the Turkish government and the United Nations.

Suspicion immediately fell on the ambitious heir to the throne, who was consolidating his power within the often fractious royal family. Despite Saudi government claims that he was not involved, the CIA concluded, in an assessment leaked later that year, that Mohammed had ordered the assassination.


In early 2019, Congress passed a law giving the Trump administration 30 days to submit an unclassified report by the ODNI with “a determination and evidence with respect to the advance knowledge and role of any current or former official of Saudi Arabia . . . over the directing, ordering or tampering of evidence in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.” It specifically ordered a release of names.

Trump ignored the mandate. In February 2020, his ODNI informed congressional leaders that it was “unable to provide additional information . . . at the unclassified level,” and sent them a copy of the classified CIA assessment.


At Avril Haines’s confirmation hearing to become Biden’s national intelligence director, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked if she would release the ODNI report.

“Yes, Senator. Actually, we’ll follow the law,” Haines replied.


Even without Haines’s determination and pressure from Congress, efforts to force release have been moving rapidly through federal court in the Southern District of New York.

The first of two cases filed by the Open Society Justice Initiative under the Freedom of Information Act is a broad 2019 request for “all records” related to the killing and who was responsible, including the classified CIA report. Ordered by the court to produce an index of anything that might be responsive, the Trump administration in December asked for an extension of the deadline. The Biden administration has now asked for an additional extension, until next month.


Some experts believe that if both sides are willing, and nuanced diplomacy is pursued, they can still find a way to work productively together. “Once this report comes out, and it’s very damning to the crown prince, it’s going to be tense,” Karen Young of the American Enterprise Institute said in an interview. “But I think everybody has sort of factored that in. . . . Everybody understands that this was a decision that he had something to do with.”


Mohammed also serves as his country’s defense minister, and the administration is likely to focus on his role there as the proper level of contact.

“But will there be Oval Office visits?” she said. “No, definitely not.”

I’m not going to talk the moral issues here, the House of Saud is an absolute monarchy and is corrupt and it is not a reliable ally in any matter, so as a matter of basic common sense, tightly embracing Riyadh as a central pillar of our foreign policy is stupid.

Also, it’s increasingly clear, particularly now that the psychopathic moron Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is running things, is that the House is doomed, and it will be overthrown sooner rather than later.

The best outcome would be that the House of Saud is overthrown in the manner of the House of Windsor, and so a lot of the (very) extended clan would need to find real work, and a few would serve as figureheads, and open hospitals and the like.

The worst outcome would be that the House of Saud is overthrown in the manner of the House of Romanov, which would be a horror show, considering the not-inconsiderable hydrocarbon assets in the kingdom and the fact that 2 of Islam’s holiest sites are located there, Medina and Mecca.

The longer that we prop up the House of Saud, and the longer that we prop up Mohammed bin Salman, the more likely that the transition to post-monarchy in that country will be violent and messy.

Of Course They Are Getting Screwed

That was the whole purpose of the massive funding for Proposition 22 in California, to get a license to treat their employees like crap.

Anyone who says that they voted for Prop 22 because they thought that it would improve the lot of the Gypsy cab drivers and food delivery folks is either a liar or an idiot:

Weeks after Proposition 22 went into effect in California and exempted some major tech firms from fully complying with labor laws, workers for rideshare and delivery apps in the state claim poor working conditions have persisted and pay has decreased.

Drivers and labor groups opposed Prop 22, saying it would allow companies to sidestep their obligations to provide benefits and standard minimum wages to their workers even as they make billions of dollars. But the measure passed at the ballot box.

“It’s clear that as soon as Prop 22 passed, it was open season to start cutting my pay again,” said Peter Young, a rideshare driver for four years in Los Angeles. “I’m looking for other work. I can’t keep doing this at this pay. I’m doing food delivery right now. Everyone is ordering food online so there’s demand. It’s just that what they are choosing to pay me isn’t reliable any more and it’s getting lower.”


“I was under the impression that I was going to get an additional $0.30 per mile after Prop 22,” said [Uber driver Ben] Valdez, but he hasn’t received that extra compensation because, according to Uber’s metrics, his pay exceeds their calculation of 120 percent of minimum wage.

A studyby labor economists at the University of California, Berkeley, in October 2019 found Prop 22 guarantees a minimum wage of $5.64 an hour, as only engaged time is accounted for in the wage calculations.

“A lot of drivers were duped because they expected they were magically going to be able to qualify for benefits that the companies made it sound like they were going to pay for up front and that drivers were going to be getting reimbursement for the mileage,” said Valdez. “They also made drivers believe that if Prop 22 didn’t pass then Uber and Lyft were going to leave the state of California because they couldn’t afford to pay drivers as employees.”

It’s pretty simple.  The gig companies won because they lied and because they spent a lot of money.

Start collecting signatures for a repeal, and come back again, and again.

Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and have lots of venture capital money, but no meaningful profits.

Between the lies, and the limits of their VCs, eventually they will lose.

Facebook is a Ponzi Scheme

I have noted for some time not that even by the rather loose standards of internet advertising, Facebook stands out because of the fraudulent nature of its ad metrics.

Now we have a whistle-blower:

A Facebook employee warned that the company reported revenues it “should have never made” by overstating how many users advertisers could reach, according to internal emails revealed in a newly unsealed court filing.

The world’s largest social media company has since 2018 been fighting a class-action lawsuit claiming that its executives knew its “potential reach metric”, used to inform advertisers of their potential audience size, was inflated but failed to correct it.

According to sections of a filing in the lawsuit that were unredacted on Wednesday, a Facebook product manager in charge of potential reach proposed changing the definition of the metric in mid-2018 to render it more accurate.

However, internal emails show that his suggestion was rebuffed by Facebook executives overseeing metrics on the grounds that the “revenue impact” for the company would be “significant”, the filing said.

The product manager responded by saying “it’s revenue we should have never made given the fact it’s based on wrong data”, the complaint said.


Facebook has argued that the metrics are only estimates. Indeed, advertisers do not pay the company based on potential reach, rather for actual impressions and clicks on ads.


Facebook itself acknowledged that the metric was “arguably the single most important number in our ads creation interfaces” in an internal document cited in the unsealed filing.

The filing also claimed that in early 2018, internal Facebook research found that removing duplicate accounts from potential reach would result in a 10 per cent drop in the figure.


In March 2019, Facebook made some changes to its potential reach, making it based on how many people matching an advertiser’s criteria had been shown an ad in the past 30 days, rather than the number of active users over the same time period. However, the lawsuit alleges that as of 2020, the company “still has not removed the fake and duplicate accounts from its potential reach calculation”.


The lawsuit over potential reach is the second major suit brought by advertisers regarding misleading metrics at Facebook. Several years ago the company settled a complaint filed after it disclosed it overstated video-viewing metrics in 2015 and 2016.

(emphasis mine)

I really want to see Mark Zuckerberg marched out of Facebook headquarters in handcuffs one day. 

Of course, that would require a Department of Justice that wasn’t generally opposed to prosecuting white collar crime.

Another Thursday, Another Unemployment Report

And this time, initial claims went up:

Worker applications for unemployment benefits rose during the first half of February, pausing a downward trend that pointed to an improving labor market amid other signs that the economic recovery is picking up.

The Labor Department on Thursday said the increase to 861,000 last week was accompanied by a 55,000 upward revision of claims in the prior week, on a seasonally adjusted basis. That put the four-week moving average, which smooths out week-to-week fluctuations, at 833,000, slightly lower than the prior week and near the top of a roughly 750,000 to 850,000 range since last October.

Jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—have remained above the pre-coronavirus pandemic peak of 695,000 since the start of the pandemic last March.

Joe, get those f%$#ing checks out the f%$#ind door, and $2000, not the f%$#ing ridiculously means tested $1600 you are trying to sell right now.

Worse Response to a Bad Idea

The Australian government is in the process of passing a law that requires payment for linking to news sites, which to my mind is a horrible idea, and Mark Zuckerberg’s response to all of this is to have Facebook ban all Australian news content from their platform

Granted, Australia is not a huge market, at 25 million people, it’s only about 5 million more people than the New York City metropolitan area, but this ham-fisted response is going to do a lot of damage to Facebook while mildly inconveniencing the people of Australia.

I don’t expect Zuckerberg to cave, and in that case, I see Australia generally moving to some other source of rumors, genocidal racists, fascism, and cat pix.

The Australians are a hardy and inventive people:

Facebook has followed through on its threat to ban Australians from seeing or posting news content on its site in response to the federal government’s news media code.

The tech giant’s Australian and New Zealand managing director, Will Easton, said this would block links to Australian publishers from being posted, while no Australian users would be able to share or see content from any news outlets, both Australian and international.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” he said in a blog post published on Thursday morning. “It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”


Users on Thursday reported seeing a pop-up error window when they attempted to post links to news, stating these cannot be posted in response to the news media code.


Facebook’s move is in contrast to the approach from the other major platform subject to the code, Google.

Although Google had threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia if the code went ahead, in the past week, Google has signed agreements with some of Australia’s biggest publishers, including News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media, for payment for its News Showcase product. The Nine deal is reportedly worth $30m a year.

As several people have pointed out to me, Facebook blocked itself.

— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) February 17, 2021

Yes, Facebook banned Facebook, I think that the Aussies would call this an “Own Goal”

It gets even worse, because Facebook f%$#ed up the rollout of the ban, shutting down non-profits and government agencies as well:

The Bureau of Meteorology, state health departments, the Western Australian opposition leader, charities and Facebook itself are among those to have been hit by Facebook’s ban on news in Australia.

On Thursday morning Facebook began preventing Australian news sites from posting, while also stopping Australian users from sharing or viewing content from any news outlets, both Australian and international.

The social media giant said it made the decision in response to the news media bargaining code currently before the Senate, which would force Facebook and Google to negotiate with news companies for payment for content.


As Australia prepares to begin the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, state health departments, including SA Health and Queensland Health, were unable to post.

St Vincent’s Health in Melbourne said it was “extremely concerning”its Facebook page had been blocked “during a pandemic and on the eve of crucial Covid vaccine distribution”.

Facebook is claiming that this was a “Mistake.”

If you believe that, I have a bridge in Melbourne made completely of Koala poop to sell you.