The DC City Council has no Republicans, but, "Yep, They Did It — D.C. Council Repeals Initiative 77: The D.C. Council has now officially repealed Initiative 77, the measure approved by voters in June that would have gradually eliminated the tipped wage. What began as a protracted and oftentimes contentious battle during the primary season ended with a whimper in legislative session on Tuesday. The vote was 8-5, with the same councilmembers who voted against the measure two weeks ago similarly opposing the second vote: Ward 1's Brianne Nadeau, Ward 3's Mary Cheh, Ward 6's Charles Allen, and At-large Councilmembers Robert White and Elissa Silverman. In addition to repealing Initiative 77, the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act of 2018 also requires employers of tipped workers to be trained on the topics of sexual harassment and wage-theft laws, and to use a third-party payroll system that submits data to D.C.'s Department of Employment Services. That employment agency must also create a website with information about the city's wage and hour rules, and the mayor must set up a tip line for workers to report wage theft. Now, the repeal needs the mayor's signature, which Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she will provide, and a standard 30-day Congressional review period to become law. While 55 percent of voters came out in favor of Initiative 77 during the June primary, the council moved quickly towards repealing the measure, which faced strong opposition from the restaurant industry."
So, a guy tried to bomb some prominent Democrats who, just by coincidence, are constant hate figures of the right wing, including right-wing television, radio, and Trump. But David Dayen noticed an interesting bit of the guy's back story, "Cesar Sayoc's Home Was Foreclosed On By Steve Mnuchin's Bank, Using Dodgy Paperwork: CESAR SAYOC, THE Donald Trump-loving Floridian who was taken into custody in relation to pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats, was foreclosed on in 2009 by a bank whose principal owner and chair is now Trump's treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. The documents used to enact the foreclosure were signed by a prominent robo-signer and seemingly backdated. Nonetheless, the evidence was good enough for the famously inattentive Florida foreclosure courts to wave the case through. Years later, Sayoc became a supporter of Trump, who came into office and appointed a treasury secretary who ran the bank that snatched Sayoc's house. [...] It's a bizarre twist to a story that has captured America's attention this week. Thirteen pipe bombs were sent by mail to high-profile Trump critics: former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, Rep. Maxine Waters, former Attorney General Eric Holder, actor Robert DeNiro, financier and Democratic donor George Soros, among others. None of the bombs exploded. In yet another irony, Soros was one of the investors in the bank that executed the foreclosure on Sayoc's home. [...] The story is a lesson about the toxicity of the foreclosure crisis and how it upended millions of lives. It's also a lesson about how the failure to uphold the rule of law can reverberate in unforeseen directions, and how a combination of ignorance and partisan passions can make people believe their assailants are their saviors."
Surprisingly, a strong article in Politico that's very positive, "Bernie Sanders Is Quietly Remaking the Democrats' Foreign Policy in His Own Image: The gadfly senator suddenly finds himself in an unfamiliar role: consensus-builder. [...] Van Jackson, a foreign policy expert and adviser to the Pentagon during the Obama administration, described Sanders' global-minded makeover: 'I'm a progressive but couldn't bring myself to vote for Sanders in 2016 because I thought he wasn't serious about national security. He was basically silent on it. ... Not only does Sanders now seem to take national security seriously — he's literally the only politician accurately diagnosing the threat landscape America faces,' he wrote in an email."
I saw "centrists" saying that if Bernie Sanders went to South Carolina only 15 people would show up. This looks like more than 15 people. (Sanders' speech starts about halfway through the video, but it's interesting seeing the local speakers and Nina Turner rabble-rousing first, too.)
"US votes against UN resolution condemning gay sex death penalty, joining Iraq and Saudi Arabia: The US is one of just 13 countries to have voted against a United Nations resolution condemning the death penalty for having gay sex. Although the vote passed, America joined countries such as China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in opposing the move. The Human Rights Council resolution condemned the 'imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations'. It attacked the use of execution against persons with 'mental or intellectual disabilities, persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women'. It also expressed 'serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women'. The US supported two failed amendments put forward by Russia, which stated the death penalty was not necessarily 'a human rights violation' and that it is not a form of torture, but can lead to it 'in some cases'. And it abstained on a 'sovereignty amendment' put forward by Saudi Arabia, that stated 'the right of all countries to develop their own laws and penalties'."
Bill Mitchell has depressing news in his summary of his meeting with John McDonnell in London: It is Wednesday and I am reverting to my plan to keep my blog posts short on this day to give me more time for other things. Today, I will briefly outline what happened last Thursday when I met with Shadow British Chancellor John McDonnell in London. As I noted yesterday, I was not going to comment publicly on this meeting. I have a lot of meetings and interactions with people in 'high' office which remain private due to the topics discussed etc. But given that John McDonnell told an audience in London later that evening that he had met with me and that I thought the proposed fiscal rule that Labour has adopted was 'fine', I thought it only reasonable that I disclose what happened at that meeting. I did not think the rule was fine and I urged them to scrap it and stop using neoliberal constructs." It seems Labour has bought the deficit lie and is talking austerity.
"Even janitors have noncompetes now. Nobody is safe.: One of the central contradictions of capitalism is that what makes it work — competition — is also what capitalists want to get rid of the most. That's true not only of competition between companies, but also between them and their workers. After all, the more of a threat its rivals are, and the more options its employees have, the less profitable a business will tend to be. Which, as the Financial Times reports, probably goes a long way toward explaining why a $3.4 billion behemoth like Cushman & Wakefield would bother to sue one of its former janitors, accusing her of breaking her noncompete agreement by taking a job in the same building she had been cleaning for the global real estate company but doing it for a different firm."
Sirota, "Noble Energy Pumps Unregulated Cash Into Fight Against 112: In a last-ditch attempt to defeat one of the most far-reaching environmental measures on the 2018 ballot, a fossil-fuel giant is blanketing Colorado television with election-focused political ads that it now claims are outside the purview of all state campaign-finance laws. The maneuver — which pioneers a novel way for corporations to circumvent disclosure statutes and inject money directly into elections — has been blessed by the office of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who has led a Republican political group bankrolled by the same fossil-fuel corporation that is airing the ads."
"At the Heart of Global Woes, 157 of World's 200 Richest Entities Are Now Corporations, Not Governments: From massive inequality to the climate crisis, these powerful corporations 'are able to demand that governments do their bidding'"
"I Bought Used Voting Machines On Ebay For $100 Apiece. What I Found Was Alarming [...] Surely, I thought, these machines would have strict guidelines for lifecycle control like other sensitive equipment, like medical devices. I was wrong. I was able to purchase a pair of direct-recording electronic voting machines and have them delivered to my home in just a few days. I did this again just a few months ago. Alarmingly, they are still available to buy online. If getting voting machines delivered to my door was shockingly easy, getting inside them proved to be simpler still. The tamper-proof screws didn't work, all the computing equipment was still intact, and the hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the 'Property Of' government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it. [...] This year, I bought two more machines to see if security had improved. To my dismay, I discovered that the newer model machines — those that were used in the 2016 election — are running Windows CE and have USB ports, along with other components, that make them even easier to exploit than the older ones. Our voting machines, billed as 'next generation,' and still in use today, are worse than they were before — dispersed, disorganized, and susceptible to manipulation.
OK, this is just hilarious. "Francis Fukuyama interview: 'Socialism ought to come back': The End of History author on what Karl Marx got right, the rivals to liberal democracy and why he fears a US-China war."
Poynter, "About 1,300 U.S. communities have totally lost news coverage, UNC news desert study finds." Many newspapers that still exist are publishing little if any local news, but in many parts of the US, there are simply no newspapers at all. Some local stations are still trying hard to cover local news and issues, but for many people, there is no local broadcast news and no local coverage.
Jay Rosen says, "Next time you wonder why New York Times people get so defensive, read this." And goes on to say that now that the journalists are forced to get more feedback, and the paper now depends more closely on subscriptions rather than advertising for income, readers are making them nervous. This seems like an awfully sympathetic position to take for a paper that chose to fill its op-ed page with right-wingers in one of the most liberal markets in America. I feel bad for journalists who want to write the Who, What, Where, When, and Why and instead find themselves having to juggle both-siderism with stratospherically insane claims from the "other side", but that's on their bosses, not on the readers.
Robert Kuttner, "Sears Didn't 'Die.' Vulture Capitalists Killed It. If you've been following the impending bankruptcy of America's iconic retailer as covered by print, broadcast and digital media, you've probably encountered lots of nostalgia and sad clucking about how dinosaurs like Sears can't compete in the age of Amazon and specialty retail. But most of the coverage has failed to stress the deeper story. Namely, Sears is a prime example of how hedge funds and private equity companies take over retailers, encumber them with debt in order to pay themselves massive windfall profits, and then leave the retailer without adequate operating capital to compete." On that same subject, Sam Seder talked to Marshall Steinbaum about The Sears Bankruptcy & Private Equity Raiders on The Majority Report.
"Wrongfully convicted by non-unanimous jury, I spent 15 years in prison for crime I didn't commit [...] In any other state, we wouldn't have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Louisiana is one of only two states that allow people to be convicted of felonies with non-unanimous jury votes. After the Civil War, when the 14th Amendment mandated that black men be allowed to serve on juries, Louisiana took action to maintain our second-class status. In 1898, the state changed its constitution so that a less than unanimous vote by a jury could convict a defendant of a felony. The purpose was to make sure that black jurors could be outvoted by a majority of white jurors. The official statements made at the 1898 Constitutional Convention stated that the intention was to 'perpetuate the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race in Louisiana.' On November 6, Louisiana will have a chance to overturn this expressly racist jury rule. A proposal on the ballot asks voters if they want to end the state's split-jury statute and the unfair practice of convicting people of a felony without the unanimous consent of a jury."
David Dayen in The New Republic, "The Essential Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren: The potential 2020 candidates are often portrayed as identical progressives. A closer look proves otherwise. [...] They have markedly different approaches to empowering the working class. In the simplest possible terms, Warren wants to organize markets to benefit workers and consumers, while Sanders wants to overhaul those markets, taking the private sector out of it. This divide — and where Warren or Sanders's putative rivals position themselves on it — will determine the future of the Democratic Party for the next decade or more."
"Group Purchasing Organizations, Health Care Costs, and Drug Shortages [...] In 1972, Congress enacted the Anti-Kickback Statute as part of the Social Security Act Amendments that banned kickbacks, bribes, or rebates in return for furnishing items or services; the statute was intended to protect patients and federal health programs from the inherent conflict of interest. However, in 1987, group purchasers were granted an exception to the antikickback law, known as the safe harbor exemption. The exemption allowed creative strategies for GPOs to increase their profits. Today, GPOs ask manufacturers to pay them undisclosed vendor fees as a condition to have their products placed in the GPO catalogs. This issue can be problematic when GPOs go further and invite a manufacturer to pay a premium fee to become a sole supplier, allowing the manufacturer that is the highest bidder to essentially purchase market share, rendering hospitals and patients dependent on a single manufacturer's supply chain. Hospitals in turn are sometimes asked to enter into contracts with GPOs that offer greater discounts for longer, more exclusive contracts. One potential result of these contracting interactions is that only 1 or 2 manufacturers may be responsible for an entire regional or national supply chain. This reliance on a narrow supply chain can have an adverse effect on hospital inventories if a factory has production problems. A 2016 US Government Accountability Office study concluded that there was a strong association between critical drug shortages and a decline in the number of drug suppliers.2 Furthermore, GPOs were a significant focus in a US House of Representatives report on drug shortages, which stated that 'the GPO structure reduces the number of manufacturers producing each generic drug.'3 This association between drug shortages and the number of drug suppliers was likely a contributing factor when hospitals faced a nationwide shortage of intravenous saline bags after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico and damaged the manufacturing plant of Baxter International, which has dominated the US saline bag market.4 Although there is limited evidence to support the direct link between GPOs and drug shortages, the vendor fee model of GPOs has the potential to create barriers to market entry for manufacturers by rewarding fewer, larger manufacturers and thus increasing dependence on fewer supply chains."
"The Growth of Sinclair's Conservative Media Empire: The company has achieved formidable reach by focussing on small markets where its TV stations can have a big influence. [...] There are regulations that prevent any single company from controlling too large a share of the press, in order to protect competition and the free exchange of ideas. Sinclair has achieved its formidable reach by exploiting loopholes in these regulations. During the past few decades, it has bought small and midsized television-station operators and then circumvented regulations by setting up shell companies that on paper appear to be separate entities but over which Sinclair exerts almost total control. Sinclair's stations — there are often several in the same broadcast area, branded as local ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox affiliates — enjoy the trust of viewers because they appear independent, even though much of the content is dictated at a national level. A former news director at a Sinclair-owned station told me that Smith 'purposely went in and bought a whole bunch of stations in mid-America — i.e., Trump kinds of towns. Places where they could have a big influence.' She added, 'I don't care what your politics are — the bottom line is, they hatched a plan to have an effect on the majority of this country. And, when you look at it, I'm positive the right-wing commentaries, in small markets, had an effect on the election.'"
Haaretz, "$6 Billion of Iranian Money: Why Israeli Firm Black Cube Really Went After Obama's Team: When it was revealed earlier this year that the commercial spy firm was targeting members of the Obama administration, it was assumed it was working for the Trump team. But official company documents leaked to Haaretz reveal a far more lucrative target — the seizure of Iranian cash worldwide"
Andrew O'Hehir at Alternet, "Donald Trump Didn't Start the Fire: Here Are Things the Midterms Can't Fix: An appalling week of mail bombs, Trump tweets and Megyn Kelly overload should remind us: Politics won't fix America [...] Let's say instead that for many powerful and well-insulated Americans near the top of the cultural pyramid, from the center-left to the center-right — including at least some penitent conservatives in the Max Boot and Tom Nichols mold — a potential Democratic congressional majority in 2019 carries a special significance. It represents a symbolic Restoration of the old order, something like installing Charles II on the throne in 1660 after the disastrous experiment of Oliver Cromwell's Puritan regime. It's one last chance to reassert sanity and normalcy — which in this case signifies a government operated by spooks and wizards with Ivy League degrees — before we plunge off the cliff into the bottomless troll-hole of dumbass fascism. It's time, in this worldview, for ideological enemies to set aside our differences and join in a 'Coalition of Normals,' to quote Salon contributor Bob Cesca, devoted to restoring our republic and enforcing 'presidential' conduct on the presidency. To this particular fantasy I say, with respect and affection and some lingering nostalgia: LOL whatever. This 'normal' that you speak of: When was that, and where is it to be found? The Benghazi hearings? The drone war and the secret 'kill list' that included American citizens? The birther controversy and the 'death panels'? Potential vice president Sarah Palin? The Iraq war and the 'unknown unknowns'? The Lewinsky scandal and the 'meaning of is'?"
Tom Joudrey in Slate, "The Alarming Paternalism of Today's Queer Agenda: What the anti-pornography campaign of 1980s radical feminism can teach us about queer politics today."
"@emarvelous: Fifty years ago today, two American Olympians showed what it meant to champion justice and equality. It would cost them their careers, test their sanity, and earn them the scorn of their fellow citizens. Their protest inspired multitudes and left a legacy that transcends sport." Of course, everyone knows the iconic photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their fists raised at the Olympic podium. The third athlete, the Australian Peter Norman, also suffered for his solidarity with his fellows, but times have changed. I was touched by this detail: "The other monument was erected in 2005 on the campus of Smith's and Carlos's alma mater, San Jose State University in California. For this piece, the second-place podium was left empty. Norman had declined to be depicted, to allow visitors to stand in his place in solidarity with the two Americans instead."
A correction in The New York Times: "An obituary on Wednesday about Alex Spanos, the owner of the Chargers, misstated the location of Stockton, Calif., where he was born. It is about 80 miles east of San Francisco, not west" Via Fark.
"New York Review of Science Fiction #349 is the special Gardner Dozois memorial issue, downloadable for free.
I'm so old, I can't remember whether I've seen this video before or not. It seems familiar, and yet, I dunno, maybe I just never really watched it that hard before. "Help!"