Tuesday, January 19, 2021

There was a stone-cold pack of lies

I'm not going to try to comment on the recent incursion into the Capitol, I can't even guess where this goes. A couple of links will be all you get.

"Biden to name Gary Gensler as U.S. SEC chair, sources say: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Gary Gensler will be named chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by President-elect Joe Biden, said two sources familiar with the matter, an appointment likely to prompt concern among Wall Street firms of tougher regulation. [...] Gensler was chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 2009 to 2014, and since November has led Biden's transition planning for financial industry oversight. His appointment as the country's top securities regulator is expected to put an end to the four years of rule-easing that Wall Street banks, brokers, funds and public companies have enjoyed under President Donald Trump's SEC chair Jay Clayton." Now this is good news!

And I hope he really means this: "How Biden Can Move On From the Obama Era: Last week, Joe Biden announced that he would not succumb to deficit hysteria in crafting his plan to lift millions of people out of pandemic-caused economic crisis. 'With conditions like the crisis today, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action—even with deficit financing—is going to help the economy,' Biden remarked to press at a transition event. It was an important moment that showed the president-elect's ability to adapt to changing evidence. After 2008, the incoming Obama administration pivoted too soon to deficit politics and austerity, causing significant harm and slowing the recovery. Biden appears to have learned from this mistake, and is determined not to repeat it. [...] The Biden team has some big early tests. It must prosecute the big monopolization cases against Google and Facebook, which revealed collusion in muscling competitors out of the online advertising markets. It has a number of consent decrees, where companies vowed to adhere to various guidelines, that have been violated. Stoller argued that Biden's enforcers could take one broken consent decree and make an example of that company with a big fine or other action, comparing it to President Reagan firing the air traffic controllers. That signaled that capital would be favored over labor. 'The Biden team can do that in reverse,; Stoller said."

It looks like they're trying to blow it, as usual, though, and lose some of those seats they managed to get this time around. "Dems Reject Bigger Survival Checks, Float Tax Breaks For The Rich: Party leaders are backing off a chance to push for a new round of full $2,000 survival checks — while Democratic lawmakers consider new tax breaks for the wealthy."

"Porter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector: Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) lost her seat on the House Financial Services Committee after House Democratic leaders on Thursday rejected her request for a waiver to serve on the Financial Services panel and other committees simultaneously, two House Democratic sources told The Hill. The Financial Services Committee is one of five House panels deemed 'exclusive' by Democratic leaders under caucus rules adopted in July 2020. Democrats on exclusive committees are barred by caucus rules from serving on any other committee without a waiver from the party's steering committee, a panel of several dozen lawmakers chaired by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that determines committee assignments. Porter, a former financial law professor known for dressing down administration officials and executives in hearings, was appointed to the Financial Services Committee and received a waiver to serve on the House Oversight and Reform Committee during her first term." Maybe she was too good at her job.

"Why West Virginia's Winning The Race To Get COVID-19 Vaccine Into Arms [...] So far, West Virginia is outpacing the rest of the country. Having delivered vaccine to health workers and completed a first round of shots at all its long-term care facilities, the state is now administering second doses and moving on to other populations, including people age 80 and over, and teachers who are 50 and older. Meanwhile, many other states are still struggling with the complex logistics of distributing the lifesaving medicines. [...] She and other health officials say there is likely a number of reasons behind their early success. For one thing, West Virginia has been charting its own path to vaccine distribution. All 49 other states signed on with a federal program partnering with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate long-term care and assisted living facilities. But those chain stores are less common in West Virginia, so the state instead took charge of delivering its vaccine supply to 250 pharmacies — most of them small, independent stores."

"Republican AGs group sent robocalls urging protesters to the Capitol. GOP officials now insist they didn't know about it: The day before a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association sent out robocalls urging supporters to come to D.C. to 'fight' Congress over President Trump's baseless election fraud claims."

"Surprise, Surprise: Off-Duty Cops From All Over the Country Were in D.C. During Capitol Coup Attempt: Several police departments across the country have opened investigations into cops among their ranks to find out if they were involved in the siege on the U.S. Capitol on Washington, D.C. on January 6th. The growing number of probes follows an announcement from the Seattle Police Department on Friday that two of its officers have been put on administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations that they were in the nation's capital during the raucous events. The New York Times reports that cops from Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire are now under similar scrutiny after social media posts placed them near the riots that took place in the nation's Capitol."

Statement from American Thinker: "We received a lengthy letter from Dominion's defamation lawyers explaining why they believe that their client has been the victim of defamatory statements. Having considered the full import of the letter, we have agreed to their request that we publish the following statement:" — Jay Rosen provides the TL;DR: "We just made shit up. Yep. We lied and lied. There was no basis for anything we said. Shouldn't have done it, but you know what? We did do it, violating every principle we have"

"Laura Poitras says she's been fired by First Look Media over Reality Winner controversy. Now she's questioning the company's integrity [...] In their phone call the next day, Poitras says, she was fired — and she says it was in retaliation for speaking to the media about the organization's failure to protect a source who is now serving five years in prison for leaking confidential intelligence documents to one of First Look's publications, the Intercept. [...] In a statement early Thursday afternoon, First Look described Poitras's parting from the company as a 'natural' decision to not renew her contract after she 'decided to step away from her role at the company to pursue her own projects.' The company denied that its decision was based on Poitras talking to the media. Later Thursday, First Look issued another statement that Poitras had 'not been active in any capacity with our company for more than two years. This is simply not a tenable situation for us or any company.' Poitras denied this, saying she had been active on several films in production when she was fired as well as making an online security guide for filmmakers. [...] 'I was told my firing was effective immediately and without cause, my access to email was shut down, and that the company had no plans to communicate my abrupt termination to the public,' Poitras wrote in her letter."

"US police three times as likely to use force against leftwing protesters, data finds: In the past 10 months, US law enforcement agencies have used teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and beatings at a much higher percentage at Black Lives Matter demonstrations than at pro-Trump or other rightwing protests. Law enforcement officers were also more likely to use force against leftwing demonstrators, whether the protests remained peaceful or not. The statistics, based on law enforcement responses to more than 13,000 protests across the United States since April 2020, show a clear disparity in how agencies have responded to the historic wave of Black Lives Matter protests against police violence, compared with demonstrations organized by Trump supporters."

"Newark police: No officer fired a single shot in 2020,thanks to de-escalation program: Newark police and city officials say a de-escalation training program is working, especially in a year faced with challenges. Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose says 2020 was the roughest year in his 34-year career in law enforcement. Six of their 1,100 officers lost their lives to COVID-19 with dozens more officers sick after being exposed on the job. They also faced major challenges during the summer's anti-police brutality protests. Through it all, Ambrose says not one officer in the city fired his or her weapon while on duty in 2020."

Craig Murray says Magistrate Vanessa Bararitser's decision to deny extradition of Julian Assange but not to let him go is "Both Tortuous and Torturous".

"How A Flurry Of Suspicious Phone Calls Set Investigators On Rick Snyder'S Trail: The former Michigan governor, his chief of staff, and health director were in close contact in October 2014, when Legionnaires' disease in Flint was setting off alarm bells among officials. FORMER MICHIGAN Gov. Rick Snyder knew about a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Flint as early as October 2014, when there was still a significant amount of time to save lives. That was the accusation of investigators looking into the Flint water crisis, according to documents compiled as part of a three-year investigation and obtained by The Intercept. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Snyder, as well as former Michigan health department director Nick Lyon, and Snyder's top adviser Richard Baird, will be charged by the Michigan attorney general, Dana Nessel, over their roles in the Flint water crisis."

Among the new US postage stamps being released there will be one for Ursula K. Le Guin. (The Sun Science stamps look pretty cool, too.)

RIP: "Storm Constantine (1956-2021): Author and publisher Storm Constantine, 64, died January 14, 2021 following a long illness. She was best known as the author of the Wraeththu series, and as the publisher of Immanion Press, founded in 2003, which published her own work and that of other authors including Tanith Lee, Michael Moorcock, and Brian Stableford." I only had a nodding acquaintance with her, personally, but I enjoyed her books when I read them. I always thought it was cool the way she made herself accessible to her fans at conventions without seeming pushy or having an overblown sense of her own importance.

RIP: "Phil Spector, Famed ‘Wall of Sound’ Producer Convicted of Murder, Dead at 81: Revolutionary producer behind some of pop music’s most enduring songs dies from natural causes while serving prison sentence: Phil Spector, the monumentally influential music producer whose 'Wall of Sound' style revolutionized the way rock music was recorded in the early 1960s, died Saturday at the age of 81. Spector’s life was tumultuous and ultimately tragic; as groundbreaking as his studio accomplishments were, those achievements were all but overshadowed by his 2009 conviction for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. Spector’s death was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 'California Health Care Facility inmate Phillip Spector was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at an outside hospital,' officials said in a statement. 'His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.' [...] 'A genius irredeemably conflicted, he was the ultimate example of the Art always being better than the Artist, having made some of the greatest records in history based on the salvation of love while remaining incapable of giving or receiving love his whole life,' Stevie Van Zandt wrote on Twitter." He gave us this and so much more, and he inspired Brian Wilson and Bruce Springsteen, and he was a dick. Which I guess just goes to show.

The Comedy of Michael Brooks: "Part 8 of The Michael Brooks Tribute Series: David Feldman, Andy Kindler, Matt Lech, & Sam Seder"

"Vancouver Gave Its Homeless $5,800. It Changed Their Lives. A single infusion of cash helped recipients pay their rent, get to work — and put their lives back on track. [...] Though the formal research has yet to be published, the early results are staggering. Half of the cash recipients moved into stable housing one month after they received the money, compared to 25 percent of the control group. 'That was phenomenal,' says Zhao. Almost 70 percent of them were food secure in one month. Like Ray, they spent most of the money on the essentials — food, shelter, bills. On average, the cash recipients spent a total of three fewer months in a shelter than those in the control group, whose days spent homeless increased. After one year, cash recipients reduced their spending on alcohol, drugs and cigarettes by an average of almost 40 percent, challenging 'the widespread misperception that people in poverty will misuse cash funds,' the report stated. At the end of the year-long study, participants had an average of $1,000 still left in the bank."

"Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need: In Finland, the number of homeless people has fallen sharply. The reason: The country applies the 'Housing First' concept. Those affected by homelessness receive a small apartment and counselling — without any preconditions. 4 out of 5 people affected thus make their way back into a stable life. And: All this is cheaper than accepting homelessness."

On Zero Hour, RJ Eskow and Matt Taibbi: Time to Bring Back 'Unbiased' Reporting?

"Tcherneva's Talking Points: UBI & JG: On Dec 29, 2020, Pavlena Tcherneva (@ptcherneva) used Twitter to share an elegant and accessible thread of 25 talking points comparing the Job Guarantee with Universal (Basic) Income policies and proposals. I added it to the collection under Response & Commentary 2020 here Added to the still under-developed Tcherneva page for good measure."

I missed this story last year, but it's another case where your first question is, "Why isn't that judge in jail?" "How The Environmental Lawyer Who Won A Massive Judgment Against Chevron Lost Everything: Steven Donziger won a multibillion-dollar judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. The company sued him in New York, and now he's under house arrest. [...] Donziger is not exaggerating. As he was arguing the case against Chevron in Ecuador back in 2009, the company expressly said its long-term strategy was to demonize him. And since then, Chevron has continued its all-out assault on Donziger in what's become one of the most bitter and drawn-out cases in the history of environmental law. Chevron has hired private investigators to track Donziger, created a publication to smear him, and put together a legal team of hundreds of lawyers from 60 firms, who have successfully pursued an extraordinary campaign against him. As a result, Donziger has been disbarred and his bank accounts have been frozen. He now has a lien on his apartment, faces exorbitant fines, and has been prohibited from earning money. As of August, a court has seized his passport and put him on house arrest. Chevron, which has a market capitalization of $228 billion, has the funds to continue targeting Donziger for as long as it chooses. [...] The developments that led to Donziger's confinement were, like much of the epic legal battle he's been engaged in for decades, highly unusual. The home confinement is his punishment for refusing a request to hand over his cellphone and computer, something that's been asked of few other attorneys. To Donziger, who had already endured 19 days of depositions and given Chevron large portions of his case file, the request was beyond the pale, and he appealed it on the grounds that it would require him to violate his commitments to his clients. Still, Donziger said he'd turn over the devices if he lost the appeal. But even though the underlying case was civil, the federal court judge who has presided over the litigation between Chevron and Donziger since 2011, Lewis A. Kaplan, drafted criminal contempt charges against him. In another legal peculiarity, in July, Kaplan appointed a private law firm to prosecute Donziger, after the Southern District of New York declined to do so — a move that is virtually unprecedented. And, as Donziger's lawyer has pointed out, the firm Kaplan chose, Seward & Kissel, likely has ties to Chevron. Making the case even more extraordinary, Kaplan bypassed the standard random assignment process and handpicked someone he knew well, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, to oversee the case being prosecuted by the firm he chose. It was Preska who sentenced Donziger to home detention and ordered the seizure of his passport, even though Donziger had appeared in court on hundreds of previous occasions."

"When Bill Sienkiewicz Was Interviewed by the Secret Service Over Alleged 'Threats': In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn the odd tale of Bill Sienkiewicz's visit from the Secret Service over 'threats' made to the president."

"Excerpts From The Sex And The City Revival In Which Samantha Is Replaced With Fran Lebowitz"— The idea thrills me.

"Timelapse of fog that looks like a Tsunami"

And I could look at this all day: "Winter morning drive through Madrid, Spain"

"Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

John Fogerty says his new song, "Weeping in the Promised Land", is the hardest song he's ever written.

Blood, Sweat, & Tears, "Somethin' Goin' On"

3 comments:

  1. Liberal Fascism is going to be more oppressive than Conservative Fascism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're not liberals, they're conservative members of the Democratic Party. Don't be fooled. Two right-wing parties doing right-wing things.

      Delete
  2. Weeping in the Promised Land. Its a pretty good song. Too bad that only a few people will hear it.

    ReplyDelete