There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Linkee-poo March 28th

"Baltimore Key Bridge collapses after ship collision."

Photos: Baltimore's Key Bridge collapses; search and rescue efforts continue."

"On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. A total solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the Sun. The sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk."

In the path of totality. For what is happening where on April 8th.

The Great American Eclipse.

"Most of the United States is expected to see warmer-than-average temperatures this spring, federal forecasters say, with dry conditions likely in the West." Here we go again.

"Now, in a new perspective paper in Nature Communications, Plowright and a team of 24 ecologists, infectious disease scientists and policy experts have distilled their collective observations into three recommendations to prevent spillovers and halt epidemics and pandemics before they even start."

"Dreaming of sleep? You could try a 'sleep vacation'." I have questions…

"A growing number of Americans are likewise eager to see more environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional burial and cremation. Human composting is the latest option."

(An older article, but one we missed) Let's check back with Brexit, shall we. "British children who grew up during the years of austerity are falling behind many of their European peers in terms of height, a study has found… GPs in poorer areas of the country have reported a resurgence of Victorian diseases such as rickets and scurvy caused largely, they say, by nutritional deficiencies. NHS data shows that about 700 children a year are admitted to hospital with malnutrition, rickets or scurvy in England." Okay, austerity predates Brexit. "Food experts point out that a diet of cheap junk food makes people simultaneously overweight and undernourished." Really?

"A majority of Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical Tuesday of the idea of a nationwide ban or new limits on mifepristone, the primary drug used for medication abortions... At issue in the case are lower-court rulings that would have rolled back recent Food and Drug Administration decisions to ease access to the mifepristone. A district court had instituted a nationwide ban as well."

"Consumers may also bear some of the blame for the use of pesticides. One example, Pritts said, is that growers have had to use pesticides on their apples to keep them free of spots and blemishes, because otherwise shoppers wouldn't buy them." Side eye intensifies.

“'Holy mackerel,' wrote John Swez, Duke Energy’s director for generation dispatch, in a recently released company email about losses from the old coal plants subsidized by House Bill 6, Ohio’s coal and nuclear bailout law. Critics say that and other emails show utilities knew the coal plants were run in a way that increased their losses and the resulting costs to consumers... 'Holy mackerel' can also apply to other developments in Ohio’s ongoing corruption scandal. Among other things..." And in other news I've been engaged in fighting anti-solar people on NextDoor. Apparently a landowner in a nearby community wants to install a solar "farm" on their land. The people fighting against it sound an awful lot like my interactions with First Energy. The 2 links they've shared to "prove" their position that solar energy installations are harmful to the environment and health were easily debunked as corporate propaganda. But of course that hasn't moved them off their position. If they're still checking this blog, I suggest they read this article and understand they're carrying these companies' water for them. Also note that those coal plants, which supply Ohio's baseline power, are neither profitable or maintained properly despite how much FE and AEP are sucking out of our economy because of Issue 6. '

"Plastic producers have known for more than 30 years that recycling is not an economically or technically feasible plastic waste management solution. That has not stopped them from promoting it, according to a new report… 'The companies lied,' said Richard Wiles, president of fossil-fuel accountability advocacy group the Center for Climate Integrity (CCI), which published the report. 'It’s time to hold them accountable for the damage they’ve caused.'" I know, weird, right?

"Immigrant children as young as 14 were found working illegally amid dangerous heavy equipment at a Tennessee firm that makes parts for lawn mowers sold by John Deere and other companies, according to Labor Department officials."

"As government officials debate how to handle the influx of new arrivals, the Girl Scouts — whose Troop 6000 has served kids who live in the shelter system since 2017 — are quietly welcoming hundreds of the city’s youngest new residents with the support of donations. Most of the girls have fled dire conditions in South and Central America and endured an arduous journey to the U.S."

"The California Labor Commissioner’s Office ordered Rafael Rivas’ RDV Construction Inc. and RVR General Construction Inc. to pay $16.2 million for defrauding more than 1,100 workers in Southern California. But the agency, which issued the citations for back wages and penalties in 2018 and 2019, had recovered just 2% as of last month, according to a department spokesman."

"The report found that some large firms “accelerated and distorted” the effects of supply chain snarls, including by pressuring suppliers to favor them over competitors. Food and beverage retailers also posted strong profits during the height of the pandemic and continue to do so today, casting doubt on assertions that higher grocery prices are simply moving in lock step with retailers’ own rising costs, the authors argued." This is my shocked face.

"Children who displayed aggressive behaviour at school, such as bullying or temper outbursts, are likely to earn more money in middle age, according to a five-decade study that upends the maxim that bullies do not prosper."

"Big changes are coming to the way people buy and sell houses in the United States. The National Association of Realtors settled a lawsuit last week that could up-end the way real estate agents are paid, doing away with the traditional agent's commission of 5-6%. That's prompting a reckoning for buyers, sellers and real estate agents. Here are six things to know."

"A union that’s organizing Waffle House workers filed a petition with the Labor Department on Monday, asking federal officials to investigate the iconic chain’s policy of deducting mandatory meal costs from workers’ paychecks… Waffle House takes at least $3 for each on-shift meal out of workers’ pay, whether they end up eating it or not, according to the petition from the Union of Southern Service Workers. The USSW called it 'especially alarming' since many workers are paid a tipped sub-minimum wage 'as low as $2.90 per hour,' not including gratuities."

"What are the new rules for tipping?,,, Businesses that never seemed to ask for a tip before — like grocery stores, self-checkout machines and fast food restaurants — are now asking for one these days." I've got an idea. We don't have a subminimum wage. We reform billing to remove all fees and tips and quote the actual price. "... It allows restaurants to get more money to workers while still keeping their prices low, says Sean Jung, a professor at Boston University's School of Hospitality Administration." Here's the thing, they're not keeping their prices low if you have to tip. Just like baggage fees and extra fuel fees and "touch tone dialing" fees and all the rest. That's a part of the price. How it's broken out is bullshit. Pay your workers a living wage and if you can't, maybe you shouldn't be in business. And Square Space is taking a piece of the tip? Whelp it's back to all cash tipping for me again. This reminds me of several years ago it came out that some Ohio restaurants were deducting the meal's swipe fees from workers tips (and also skimming, especially in a "shared tips" establishment).

"Israel says Hamas's rejection of a current proposal for a Gaza truce deal with Israel shows the 'damage' done by the UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire."

"A core tension in Israeli society has grown more urgent since the Hamas attack on Israel last October: Whether to draft the ultra-Orthodox into military service." Welp, that's one way to end the conflict.

"The controversial decision to allow international arms sales is expected to help secure Japan’s role in a year-old project to develop a new fighter jet together with Italy and the U.K., but it’s also part of a move to build up Japan’s arms industry and bolster its role in global affairs."

"A federal judge on Monday threw out a lawsuit by Elon Musk’s X that had targeted a watchdog group for its critical reports about hate speech on the social media platform… In a blistering 52-page order, the judge blasted X’s case as plainly punitive rather than about protecting the platform’s security and legal rights.' The champion of "free speech" is a lying douche canoe?

"Wenhold was among the last to speak. She looked to her left where her fellow representatives were sitting in a row. There was Scott Freeman, the board vice president, who had answered her many questions about the district’s budget process. There was Karen Beerer, a former teacher, who had helped her understand how the school system chose curriculums. And there was LeBlanc, whom she was still trying to figure out… This was a version of American democracy that bore little resemblance to the horror show that Green and Barton described each day on their podcast." Not sure it's a true or full conversion, but yes, if you come to the table ready to help and learn, you tend to find out that what a lot of uninvolved people told you was incorrect. The difference here between what happened in other nearby school districts is that the person who wanted to "bring change" actually could listen.

"New FBI data confirms previous indications that crime in the U.S. declined significantly in 2023, continuing a post-pandemic trend and belying widespread perceptions that crime is rising."

"Bailey, who is campaigning to keep his seat, said last week that he is investigating possible violations of the state’s human rights laws by the Hazelwood School District, after a March 8 fight left a girl hospitalized with severe head injuries." Racists gonna be racist.

"In a stunning decision announced just weeks before he was scheduled to face a jury, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has reached a deal with prosecutors to have the felony securities fraud charges against him dropped and his trial canceled."

"Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has filed a motion to remove Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., as House speaker."

"Susquehanna founder and TikTok investor Jeff Yass has avoided $1 billion in taxes while largely escaping public scrutiny. He’s now pouring his money into campaigns to cut taxes and support election deniers… Gregg Polsky, a University of Georgia law professor and former corporate tax lawyer who was retained by ProPublica to review Susquehanna’s tax records, said the tax agency may have more to scrutinize. The strategies revealed in Yass’ records, he said, were 'very suspicious and suggestive of potential abuse that should be examined by the IRS.'"

"A judge on Tuesday imposed a limited gag order on Donald Trump ahead of his criminal hush money trial in New York... Trump’s statements about various figures involved in the case “were threatening, inflammatory [and] denigrating,” Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan said in a court order." This is my shocked face.

"For the Trump campaign, Jan. 6, 2021 is not a moment of national shame but of celebration... To political scientists, that's been puzzling." Only for those who aren't paying attention. Trump is not concerned about the vote because it's his intention to steal the election. They've been working on the strategy for 4 years, getting people elected and appointed to oversee the next election. They learned from their failures in 2020.

"Trump's social media venture soared as much as 59% in its trading debut on Tuesday delivering a potential windfall of billions of dollars to the former president's net worth... Trading in Trump Media and Technology Group, the company behind the Truth Social app, was so frantic that it was briefly halted at one point. It's trading under the stock symbol DJT, or short for Donald J. Trump." Yeah, talk to me April 30.

"Former President Donald Trump is bringing together church and state in a gilded package for his latest venture, a $60 'God Bless The USA' Bible complete with copies of the nation's founding documents." He's now a Bible salesman. There are few cons older than selling Bibles at inflated prices.

"NBC's newest contributor hire is earning backlash — even from the network's own talent... Ronna McDaniel, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, has been hired by the news network, according to a statement from Carrie Budoff Brown, NBC News' Senior Vice President of Politics." There are a lot of calls to fire her. I disagree. She should be on every show, and the host and producers should fact check her on the air. This would continue to demonstrate the perfidity of the GOP. Of course that will be met with cries of censorship and "cancel culture."

"NBC News cut ties Tuesday with former Republican National Committee chief Ronna McDaniel less than a week after hiring her as an on-air political contributor, a decision that came following a furious protest by some of its journalists and commentators." And here it comes.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Linkee-poo is Magically Delicious

"For years, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has railed against the excesses of private equity firms, including megadeals that leave companies bankrupt and their workers jobless as fund managers line their pockets with fees and ­performance bonuses. In 2013, for instance, Warren proposed legislation that would shrink PE’s sway by barring commercial banks—where most Americans hold their money—from ­investing in the ­industry. Two years later, she went after what Insider called PE’s “golden goose,” asking the Treasury ­Department and the IRS to crack down on waivers that allow fund managers to pass off their ­en­­tire compensation as 'carried in­ter­est,' which is taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income." The best way to solve the inequality in America is to redefine a lot of these categories back to "income", remove the top limit on taxable income for Medicare and Social Security, and reinstate a 50% tax rate at over $5 million in income. But I agree, the sole purpose of private equity is to vacuum money from the economy into rich people's bank accounts. Their business plan is to find under leveraged (ie. low debt holding, typically less than 200% annual revenues) companies with sound financials to buy. They take out loans to purchase these companies for 150-250% of revenues. Once acquired these companies have potential debt levels of 500+%, which the new owners take out loans on to pay off their loans to purchase the company, invest typically less than 10% annual revenues back into the company, and pay themselves "bonuses" in the 200-300% revenues range. They then saddle the purchased company with that debt, plus management fees, plus profit payments to the private equity company. If the company goes under and can't service that debt, the private equity holder is not held liable for the company's debts. So they declare bankruptcy and either reorganize (while still paying management and profits to the PE), or they fold, eliminating the debt from the PE firm.

"Policies to help people walk and cycle such as low-traffic neighbourhoods can create public health benefits as much as 100 times greater than the cost of the schemes, a long-term study of active travel measures has concluded… The research, based on six years of surveys among thousands of people living in three outer London boroughs that introduced LTNs or similar schemes, found they tended to prompt people to switch some trips from cars to active travel, although the effects were varied."

"Family Dollar has pleaded guilty to operating a warehouse infested with rodents and has been fined nearly $42 million, the biggest criminal penalty in a food safety case, the Department of Justice said Monday."

"Popular artificial intelligence tools are becoming more covertly racist as they advance, says an alarming new report… A team of technology and linguistics researchers revealed this week that large language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini hold racist stereotypes about speakers of African American Vernacular English, or AAVE, an English dialect created and spoken by Black Americans." You mean AI behavior mimics human behavior, because all the models are based on historical data of how humans have responded and not by programming the ideal actions?

"Similar complaints can be heard all over the country. On average, insurance companies sought to raise homeowners' premiums by more than 11% last year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence; Auto insurance premiums are climbing even faster, far outpacing overall inflation." And this article doesn't even cover the increasing practice of insurance companies buying data from car companies about your individual driving habits.

"Rather, it was part of a routine process the federal government requires of every state: to recover money from the assets of dead people who, in their final years, relied on Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded health insurance for the poorest Americans… A person’s home is typically exempt from qualifying for Medicaid. But it is subject to the estate recovery process for those who were over 55 and used Medicaid to pay for long-term care such as nursing home stays or in-home health care." This is the real death tax that needs to be eliminated.

"Last summer, as the United States and Vietnam finalized plans to upgrade the bilateral relationship, the Communist leadership in Hanoi issued a secret directive that aimed to limit outside influences and protect the party's grip on power in the face of growing exposure to the U.S. and its allies… Analysts say the six-page document — known as 'Directive 24' and issued by the ruling Communist Party's elite Politburo — offers a window into the motivations and concerns of party leaders as they committed to deepen Vietnam's links with an erstwhile enemy and leverage shifting geopolitical sands to upgrade the country's economy." This is presented as if it's some "sinister" thing and not something most countries have either formality or informily. For our own version f this I'll just refer to the continued battle over Tik-Tok.

"More than 100 Palestinians have been killed and some 700 others wounded after Israeli troops opened fire on hundreds waiting for food aid southwest of Gaza City, health officials say, as the besieged enclave faces an unprecedented hunger crisis." Yes, this is from the end of February. But that's a real fucking war crime and crime against humanity.

"The Safe Place to Park program will include 40 parking spots for those employed full-time within city limits. It requires participants to actively engage in case management with local social services — with an end goal of securing permanent housing after the program ends. The site will include temporary restrooms, showers and trash bins."

"Public housing can conjure images of bleak, boxy towers on the outskirts of a city, but this logement social was built in the former offices of the French Defense Ministry, in the Seventh arrondissement, one of Paris’s most chic neighborhoods. It’s part of an ambitious and aggressive effort to keep middle- and lower-income residents and small-business owners in the heart of a city that would otherwise be unaffordable to them — and by extension, to preserve the ineffable character of a city adored by people around the globe."

"ALM, the media and research company that organizes Legalweek, issued a statement saying it had 'been made aware of reports of highly inappropriate behavior including harassment and assault' during the week of the event. The statement said ALM wanted to 'vehemently condemn all such action and reiterate our strong position that any such behavior has zero place in any setting.'" Some industries have a long way to go to get current with the 1990's.

"The turnout gap between white and nonwhite voters in the U.S. is growing fastest in jurisdictions that were stripped of a federal civil rights-era voting protection a decade ago, according to a new study… The protections in Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act required some states and localities with a history of voting discrimination to obtain federal approval before they could make any changes to their voting laws or procedures." Who could have seen that happening (except everybody).

"Britt seemed to want viewers to imagine her in an apron, gazing lovingly upon her family and realizing she must sacrifice some measure of domesticity for 'the future of children.' It's all nonsense, of course. She is exactly the 'permanent politician' she accused Biden of being, as any perusal of her resume will show. Britt holds a political science degree and law degree from the University of Alabama. She went straight from graduation to work on the staff of her predecessor, Sen. Richard Shelby. She worked in private practice and government, but never as a full-time stay-at-home mother." Shocking, I know.

"The White House is launching a multi-agency “strike force” on Tuesday in an effort to curb unfair and illegal pricing across the economy, according to Lael Brainard, chair of the National Economic Council… Brainard will make the announcement at a meeting… of the White House competition council, a group stacked with Cabinet officials, and other agency heads. The move comes as President Joe Biden seeks new ways to show voters he’s cracking down on the so-called corporate greed that he has increasingly blamed for high prices."

"Projects that were once bipartisan, including one started by the Trump administration, have been recast as deep-state conspiracies to rig elections. Facing legal and political blowback, the Biden administration has largely abandoned moves that might be construed as stifling political speech… While little noticed by most Americans, the effort has helped cut a path for Mr. Trump’s attempt to recapture the presidency. Disinformation about elections is once again coursing through news feeds, aiding Mr. Trump as he fuels his comeback with falsehoods about the 2020 election."

"In the vein of political operations, Whatley told staff there will be a focus on organizing communities that are not traditionally Republican. The RNC is looking to launch a '"Grow the Vote" program geared towards reaching nontraditional Republican voters and low propensity voters,' according to the memo." And yet they cut the staff for those outreach offices to focus more on "… staffing up legal counsel related to its election integrity efforts. Whatley announced Christina Bobb, who has served as an attorney for President Trump, will now serve as senior counsel for election integrity."

"According to the second source, Trump said in recent days that he was being 'too nice' about the 'animals' and alleged gang members who cross the southern border, whom Trump routinely accuses of flooding the United States with drugs, diseases, and violent crime. This person relays to Rolling Stone that Trump also said he and his campaign will be rolling out newer, even 'tougher' policy proposals on immigration in 2024, and that his supporters should look out for them because they’ll be 'very happy.' His current slate of 2024 immigration policy prescriptions include militarizing the southern border to a shocking degree, reimposing and expanding his travel 'Muslim ban,' and building a vast network of new detention camps to house undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation."