Sunday, May 30, 2021

When you believe in things that you don't understand

Kilnsey Crag, Wharfedale, was photographed by Cliff Ounsley (that's Simon's dad).

What you didn't hear about the pipeline hack was that it wasn't the pipeline that was hacked at all: "Meanwhile, new details are emerging about Colonial's decision to proactively shut down its pipeline last week, a move that has led to panic buying and massive lines at gas pumps. The company halted operations because its billing system was compromised, three people briefed on the matter told CNN, and they were concerned they wouldn't be able to figure out how much to bill customers for fuel they received. One person familiar with the response said the billing system is central to the unfettered operation of the pipeline. That is part of the reason getting it back up and running has taken time, this person said. Asked about whether the shutdown was prompted by concerns about payment, the company spokesperson said, "In response to the cybersecurity attack on our system, we proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems." At this time, there is no evidence that the company's operational technology systems were compromised by the attackers, the spokesperson added." That's right, they deprived people of fuel because they were afraid they might not be able to gouge people accurately.

"Advocates Hail Ruling Striking Down 'Unconstitutional' Georgia Anti-BDS Law: 'This ruling comes at a crucial moment... and makes clear that the Constitution protects participation in the BDS movement.' Free speech and Palestinian rights advocates on Monday hailed a ruling by a federal judge declaring the unconstitutionality of a Georgia law prohibiting the state from doing business with anyone advocating a boycott of Israel. U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen's 29-page ruling (pdf) addresses a 2016 Georgia law stipulating that 'the state shall not enter into a contract with an individual or company... unless the contract includes a written certification that such individual or company is not currently engaged in, and agrees for the duration of the contract not to engage in, a boycott of Israel.' After plaintiff Abby Martin—an award-winning U.S. journalist and filmmaker critical of Israeli crimes against Palestinians—refused to sign the pro-Israel oath, a planned paid speaking engagement at Georgia Southern University was canceled. Announcing her lawsuit—in which she was represented by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF)—Martin declared in February 2020, 'I will not forfeit my constitutional rights by signing this pledge.' Cohen's ruling states that Georgia's law 'prohibits inherently expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment, burdens Martin's right to free speech, and is not narrowly tailored to further a substantial state interest.'"

"We promised this vaccine waiver 20 years ago [...] It's not that poor countries can't make their own vaccines. The Global South has a lot of vaccine production capacity. The problem is Big Pharma, which refuses to transfer the patents and know-how to repurpose those facilities for mRNA production. South Africa and India have petitioned the WTO for a vaccine waiver. We should all want this: first, because it is monstrous to doom millions to die in order to preserve the regulatory privileges of a handful of hugely profitable, heavily subsidized pharma companies. But second, even if you don't care about being monstrous, a waiver is needed to ensure all our survival: the longer and wider the virus circulates, the more mutations we'll get, with the mounting risk of a more virulent, more lethal, more vaccine-resistant strain. [...] Gen Xers and their elders will remember the summer of 1999 and the Battle of Seattle, where anti-globalization activists fought for weeks to block the signing of the WTO agreement and its chapter on IP, the TRIPS agreement. The WTO agreement fundamentally changed the way global patents worked. Prior to the WTO, it was common for poor countries to completely ignore the patents issued by rich countries (unless the World Bank or a former colonial power coerced them into recognizing these claims). That's because countries that are net importers of finished goods have no reason to honor their suppliers' claims — doing so merely burdens their own struggling manufacturers by forcing them to pay rent to rich foreigners. [...] Ignoring other countries' exclusive rights regimes — copyright, patent, trademark, etc — is a tried-and-true method to gain self-sufficiency. That's why the Framers of the US Constitution decided that America would ignore foreign patents and copyrights, a policy that persisted for over a century, only ending once the US became a net exporter of ideas and inventions, and thus stood to gain more than it lost." Except, even the WTO agreement promises waivers, which were promised in circumstances like this one — so why the claim now that such waivers would violate the agreement?

"A Euclid Cop Killed a Man Who Had Been Sleeping in His Car. The Cop Can't Be Sued. The City Can't Be, Either. The Supreme Court has a chance to fix this. The stakes are high. A federal court last summer agreed that a reasonable jury could find that Rhodes violated Stewart's constitutional rights when the officer shot him dead—a confrontation set in motion because Stewart had fallen asleep in his parked car. He was never told he was under arrest, nor did Rhodes ever display his badge. Yet in the same breath, the court said that Stewart's estate may not bring their lawsuit before any such jury, because Rhodes was awarded qualified immunity. The legal doctrine prohibits victims from suing government officials for violating their rights unless the precise manner in which those rights were violated has been spelled out as unconstitutional in a prior court ruling. Though it sounds farcical, that's not at all a surprising outcome. Yet there is a shocking part of the decision, handed down in August by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit: They also shielded the municipality from the lawsuit on the grounds that the officer was protected by qualified immunity—something the U.S. Supreme Court specifically ruled against in Owen v. City of Independence (1980)."

"Are States Really Abolishing Qualified Immunity for Cops? Not Exactly. Recent reporting suggests that lawmakers across the country are ending a long-standing legal protection for police officers, but that isn't quite true. [...] There is just one slight hiccup. New Mexico didn't actually abolish qualified immunity. Nor did Colorado. Nor did Connecticut. Nor did New York City. I point this out not to dismiss the significance of the laws that some of these states actually passed. Indeed, some of them are actually more interesting than a straightforward abolition of qualified immunity. But when discussing how to write laws to curtail police abuses, precision is more important than ever. These reports, which greatly exaggerate the demise of qualified immunity, manage simultaneously to misdirect readers and give short shrift to what lawmakers in these jurisdictions are actually doing. [...] So what did these states actually pass into law? That's where things get interesting. In Colorado and in New Mexico, state lawmakers essentially duplicated Section 1983's basic premise—you can broadly sue government officials for violating your constitutional rights—into state law. A Coloradoan or a New Mexican (or a Connecticuter in some circumstances) whose microwave is stolen by our hypothetical police officer can now sue that officer in state court to seek redress. What's more, those states explicitly forbid government officials from seeking qualified immunity in those legal battles."

I can't remember ever having to ask, "What do you pay?" in a job interview because they usually told me in their first paragraph, well before the point where they asked if I had any questions.. Apparently, though, today's employers are unaware that what you'll be paid should have an influence on whether you'll take the job, and think they ask now all because unemployment pays too well.

"Minnesota foundations scramble to save their favored highly-segregated charter schools by defending segregation: IN THESE DAYS OF RACIAL STRIFE it may surprise you to learn that one influential philanthropy based in Minneapolis is paying for arguments in court to allow segregated public schools. Another foundation is leading the charge to remove language from the state's constitution that courts have used to bar segregation in schools. What's going on here? Are the Twin Cities not the 'liberal' bastion people make it out to be?" And there's dirt under the dirt.

No one doubts that there must be human rights abuses in China, but Lee Camp finds it hard to trust "multiple sources" on one claim when they all seem to be founded by the CIA and arms manufacturers.

"The Republican theory of unemployment is classic Marx: Indeed, as Matt Bruenig details at the People's Policy Project, there is no sign that unemployment benefits are actually interfering with labor supply. In the April jobs report, lots of people moved into employment, while only a handful moved onto unemployment. A large number of women, however, dropped out of the labor force entirely (rendering them ineligible for unemployment benefits), suggesting the child care issue is likely the real bottleneck here. But instead of calling for better wages, or setting up child care systems, or anything else, Republicans are trying to fix the problem by starving out people on unemployment — taking their money so they will have no choice but to immediately look for work, and capitalists will once again have the industrial reserve army at their beck and call. It's like conservatives have been reading Marx not to learn why they should overthrow the bourgeoisie, but as a sort of manual for how best to exploit the working class."

"Meet the Florida Judges who believe Cops have an Expectation of Privacy in Public: It was 2009 when PINAC News first broke the story of a mother named Tasha Ford who was arrested on felony 'eavesdropping' charges for recording police detaining her teenage son in the parking lot of a movie theater after accusing him of trying to sneak inside without a ticket. Ford's arrest by Boynton Beach police was one of several high-profile arrests at the time on charges of eavesdropping or 'wiretapping'; an unconstitutional trend in which cops across the country were using outdated felony laws to keep citizens from recording them in public. Several landmark court cases since then have affirmed that citizens have a First Amendment right to record police in public which is one reason why we have been seeing so many police abuse videos in recent years. Turns out, they had a lot to hide during those early years. But on May 5, the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Florida ruled the Boynton Beach cops who arrested Ford had a reasonable expectation of privacy and therefore had probable cause to arrest her, once again denying her the right to sue for damages. Ford first filed the lawsuit in 2010 but has since faced a string of judges who claim that cops have an expectation of privacy in public despite existing case law stating otherwise." I don't know where police or anyone else get the idea that cops are acting as private citizens when they are in fact in public on official business and are supposed to have their names and badge numbers clearly visible so they can be held accountable.

"If Democracy Is Dying, Why Are Democrats So Complacent? Democrats are unwilling to match their language of urgency with a strategy even remotely proportional to it. If you've followed recent Democratic messaging, you'll have heard that American democracy is under serious attack by the Republican Party, representing an existential threat to the country. If you've followed Democratic lawmaking, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the threat is actually a rather piddling one. The disconnect, in this case, isn't attributable to Democratic embellishment, but to inexcusable complacency."

"So Much For "Transformational" Joe Biden: If you haven't heard about the "transformational presidency" for a few weeks, it's because the White House is selling something else at the moment. [...] Biden has the press paper-trained to a degree we haven't seen in modern times. Not even at the height of the media's drooling love affair with Barack Obama — a phenomenon I confess I was part of — did we ever see such enthusiastic, reflexive backing of White House messaging. The Biden press even reverses course on a dime when needed, with the past weeks being a supreme example."

"Larry Summers Is Concerned About Inflation, Again: Larry Summers has a column in the Washington Post warning about inflationary risks to the economy, due to what he considers an excessively large recovery package from the Biden administration. Summers notes the extraordinarily high rate of inflation in the first quarter and warns us that worse is ahead if corrective measures are not taken soon. Starting with the inflation that we have seen to date, it is important to remember that this follows the very low rate of inflation we saw in the pandemic. Much of this is just catch up."

I'm not sure when I noticed that Peter Beinart had changed. He'd been part of a generation of writers who insisted they were liberal but supported the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq and were all-out for Israel uber alles, and then...he was not. From this New Yorker profile about that change: "Those emotions had outlasted the crisis which had created them. What was left, Beinart said, was 'this situation in which we're always in 1938.' The problem with this is, he went on, 'if basically we're always on the precipice of the Holocaust, then your only obligation is to survive. You don't have to deal with the moral obligations of how you treat other people. So it gives you tremendous license to do whatever, because, basically, the Palestinians are just proto-Nazis.'"

As I've been saying, if you spend the 2020 campaign talking up your opponents, it's not surprising if they beat you. "Opinion: Can Democrats avoid the pitfalls of 2020? A new analysis offers striking answers. The analysis — which was done by the group Way to Win and was provided to me — suggests large TV-ad expenditures on emphasizing bipartisan outreach do not appear to have paid dividends for House Democrats in the 2020 elections. The analysis also finds that Republicans spent a lot more money on casting Democrats as extremists than Democrats did in making the case against Republican extremism. Democrats, of course, lost a net dozen House seats, underperforming victorious Joe Biden all over the place. The findings suggest Democrats need a rethink of their approach to those conundrums, the analysts conclude. [...] Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, the vice president of Way to Win, said that, in sum, Democrats in 2020 sent mixed messages: They touted their willingness to work with Republicans, even as Republicans called them socialists and extremists." Via Atrios, who had more to add.

RIP: "Gavin MacLeod, Love Boat Captain and Mary Tyler Moore Show Star, Dies at 90: Gavin MacLeod, a sitcom veteran who played seaman 'Happy' Haines on McHale's Navy, Murray on Mary Tyler Moore and the very different, vaguely patrician Captain Stubing on The Love Boat, has died. He was 90." Another actor who seemed to be around my whole life, but we all loved him as Murray.

Watch Defamation: Anti-Semitism, the Movie (2009): In his exploration of modern Israeli life, filmmaker Yoav Shamir travels the world in the hunt for the most recent manifestations of anti-Semitism, and comes up with some startling answers as highlighted in his documentary Defamation. As a Jew raised and born in Israel, Shamir claims he has never experienced first-hand anti-Semitism, so he embarks on a journey to find it. He follows American-Jewish leaders to the European capitals, as they warn government officials of the rising anti-Semitism threat, and tags along with Israeli high school students on a trip to Auschwitz. What Shamir discovers often surprises him. For instance, he accompanies a group of Israeli students on a trip to Poland, in a quest to help open their eyes to the realities of the Holocaust. Yet, the youngsters have been so groomed by their leaders to dread the worst from the local citizens that they wind up envisaging anti-Semitic views where none may really exist. Indeed, his remarkably nuanced and provocative documentary Defamation becomes more of an assessment of the internecine warfare happening amongst the Jews themselves than of the attitude portrayed by the gentiles towards Jews."

"Eleanor Roosevelt's Son Authored Twenty Mysteries In Which His Mother Solves Murders: Yes, that's right. Apparently, Elliott Roosevelt, the son of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt, authored a long-running murder mystery series starring his mother as an amateur detective."

On The Politics of Everything, "Music for Nothing: Everyone streams music. Musicians make pennies. Is Spotify to blame? It's easier than ever to listen to practically the entirety of recorded music. But for musicians, it's harder than ever to make money. On Episode 31 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk about the economics of the music industry with the English musician Tom Gray, who founded the #BrokenRecord campaign, and David Turner, who writes the newsletter Penny Fractions. Did streaming save music, or is it killing it? Should we blame Spotify or the record labels for the industry's problems? And what should be done to make the music business more equitable?" (Audio and transcript.)

"David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash speak: In 1969, the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recorded Déjà Vu. It's considered one of the greatest albums of the rock era. When asked what he thinks about it when he hears it now, Stephen Stills replied, 'There's masterpieces in there. Ain't a dog in the bunch!'"

Mark Fiore on Israel/Palestine and How To Start A War In 5 E-Z Steps.

Ruben Bolling puts his finger on how billionaires think.

"Ranked: The Social Mobility of 82 Countries"— The countries with the highest mobility are the ones with the best social programs. Investing in the public pays off for the public. Cutting social services is what you do when you want to reduce the masses to lives of endless servitude.

Everyone knows by now that the bridge over the Mississippi between Memphis and Arkansas has a crack in it, but did you also know that at night it's the Hernando De Soto Bridge LIGHT SHOW - Memphis, Tennessee?

NYC Sitcom Map

Stevie Wonder live on Seseme Street, "Superstition"

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