26 March 2022

Well, that long black train got my baby and gone

This stunning sunset was captured by Jude Nagurney Camwell.

"Manchin's Child Tax Credit Lies: A new study disproves Sen. Joe Manchin's rotten claims about the child tax credit. A new study finds that the expanded Child Tax Credit — implemented last year as a key part of President Biden's American Rescue Plan — did not negatively impact employment among adults with children. The findings completely disprove West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's rationale for opposing the cash payments. Find out how and much more in today's Midday Poster below, exclusively for supporting subscribers."

I probably shouldn't bother with this one since she's leaving office to collect her reward from the corporate gods, but it's a perfect picture of what a "moderate" Democrat really is. "The Democratic Party's Biggest Problem Is Its Conservative Wing: Rep. Stephanie Murphy got everything she wanted, and it's a disaster, so she's retiring Several months ago, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) announced that she won't be running for re-election. Recently, she explained why in a worshipful interview with Rachel Bade at Politico, excerpted in its Playbook newsletter (“Presented by PhRMA”): She's mad about Democrats criticizing her for not supporting President Biden's agenda. “I am surprised at how short the memory is. It's as short as being celebrated for having flipped a seat and then excoriated for taking votes that help you keep that seat,” she said. This is a crock. Joe Biden's Build Back Better agenda is dead because a handful of the party's most conservative members, including Murphy, killed it. Now the party has nothing of legislative substance to run on, and members in swing districts are looking down the barrel of a possible midterm electoral bloodbath. The culprits are starting to head for the exits, scapegoating everyone but themselves for the consequences of their horrible decisions."

"The U.K. Wanted to Extradite Julian Assange to the U.S. From the Start: In a 2016 meeting, Britain's deputy minister of foreign affairs removed the diplomatic mask. THE U.K. HIGH COURT ruling that Julian Assange should be extradited to face trial in the United States — a decision that Amnesty International has called a “travesty of justice” — came as no surprise to me. It's what the U.K. government always wanted. I know because the British deputy minister of foreign affairs told me. Many pundits and politicians talk of the extradition proceedings against Assange as if they were an unforeseen legal outcome that came about as Assange's situation unfolded. This is not true. My experience as the foreign minister of Ecuador — the South American country that granted Assange asylum — left me in no doubt that the U.K. wanted Assange's extradition to the United States from the very beginning. One encounter I had with Alan Duncan, the former British minister of state for Europe and the Americas, in October 2016 really let the cat out of the bag. At our meeting in the Dominican Republic, Duncan went on extensively about how loathsome Assange was. While I didn't anticipate Duncan to profess his love for our asylee, I had expected a more professional diplomatic exchange. But the most important moment of the meeting was when I reiterated that Ecuador's primary fear was the transfer of Assange to the United States, at which point Duncan turned to his staff and exclaimed something very close to, 'Yes, well, good idea. How would we go about extraditing him to the Americans?”' His advisers squirmed in embarrassment. They had spent the last four years trying to reassure Ecuador that this was not what the U.K. was after. I responded that this was news indeed. I then wondered whether Duncan left the meeting feeling he had made a mess of it. I was particularly surprised by Duncan's candor because my June 2016 meeting with his predecessor, Hugo Swire, in Whitehall, had been quite different. It's not that Swire wasn't equally contemptuous of the irritating South American country that had granted Assange asylum; it is more that Swire actually knew the case well. Swire stuck to the U.K.'s position: Nobody wanted to extradite Assange to the United States. The Ecuadorian government was “deluded” and “paranoid.” This had nothing to do with the issue of freedom of expression or even WikiLeaks. The case was all about accusations in Sweden against Assange. Ecuador should stop protecting a potential sex offender."

"The Supreme Court's Astonishing, Inexplicable Blow to the Voting Rights Act in Wisconsin: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued an astonishing decision throwing out Wisconsin's new legislative districts as a violation of the equal protection clause. The majority accused a Republican justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court of greenlighting a “racial gerrymander” by creating one more majority-Black district in the state Assembly. Wednesday's unsigned decision, issued through the shadow docket, hands Wisconsin Republicans an unexpected victory in their quest to reduce Black representation in the legislature. It also alters the law of redistricting in fundamental yet cryptic ways that might, to a cynic, seem designed to disadvantage Democrats in every single case."

"Column: Renting a car from Hertz? You could wind up in jail: Tederhi Usude, a Santa Clarita dentist, rented a car from Hertz in June 2020 to drive to a job at a nonprofit health clinic in rural Mendocino County. He extended the rental several times with Hertz's permission and paid a total of $7,000. Usude, 55, says that in his last conversation with a Hertz agent he explained that he was temporarily quarantined because of a COVID-19 outbreak at the clinic, and would return the car as soon as he was cleared to travel again. On Dec. 18, 2020, he was on his way to return the vehicle the week before Christmas — in fact, he had turned onto the very street where the Hertz office was located. That's when his nightmare began. A police car flashed its lights behind him. He pulled over and was ordered out of the car. By then six or eight squad cars were on the scene. He was told to lie on the ground, was handcuffed and was taken to jail, where he spent the night." This seems to be a habit with them.

Somebody musta put the word out. "RT America Shuts Down After DirecTV, Roku Drop Channel: RT America, the U.S. arm of the Russian-government-controlled TV channel, will shut down and lay off most of its staff after Russia's invasion of Ukraine led distributors to drop the network. Misha Solodovnikov, general manager of T&R Productions, the company that produces RT America, cited “unforeseen business interruption events” in a memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg News. CNN reported earlier on RT's move." This was terrible news. RT's talent showed up to the studio and were simply told it was all over, they were shut down. RT was the only platform for those people — none of whom were speaking on behalf of the Russian government. They were there because it was the only platform that wasn't either right-wing or establishment.

"Where Did You Go, Vice President Joe?: President Biden's first SOTU Address was a missed opportunity to say what he knows to be true: Stock buybacks manipulate the market and leave most Americans worse off."

Putin May Have Played Himself. Will We? Reports suggest Putin tried to outsmart even his own troops, and checkmated himself instead." Taibbi quotes "Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky, a former Moscow Times co-worker" as tweeting: "If Putin does attack, the presumption of his rationality, which has been part of my analysis of his actions for the last 23 years, not just the past few weeks, will need to be thrown out the window." It doesn't look like the Russian troops had any idea what they were getting into, but that aspect of war-making is not new. But Putin seems to have accomplished a serious own-goal: "Meanwhile, at home, a week of Putin's Ukraine invasion has crystalized years of lobbying for messaging unity in the West. Any innovation on that front that attracted minor protest before has been deployed in the last week without question. Even Alex Jones had defenders when he was banned years ago, but for obvious reasons no one is batting an eye at the EU banning RT, or Google or Meta or DirecTV or SkyTV doing the same, or Twitter blocking new accounts in Russia, or any of a hundred moderation decisions of varying levels of rationality. It barely made news when Twitter announced it was limiting the spread of accounts that 'undermine trust in the Ukrainian government' or spreads news that 'that Ukraine isn't doing well.' (Does that language sound familiar?). Facebook, in an echo of 1984's 'Eurasia is now an ally' switcheroo, removed the neo-Nazi Azov battalion from its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations list. A few weeks ago, it was at least a little controversial when Canada invoked its Emergencies Act to assert the power to cut off financial services for anyone 'directly or indirectly' participating in trucker protests, and GoFundMe faced criticism for freezing accounts. Now a fusillade of similar decisions is coming at us almost too quickly to track." Which is troubling, and when all those things happen at once, Americans, who supposedly believe in free speech, should be horrified. But all of America's worst war hawks have crawled out of the woodwork to flex again, as they've obviously been champing at the bit to do for some time. They must've prayed for Putin to do something stupid - and I guess he has. But that doesn't mean things can't be made stupider by everyone else.

"Why Is Biden Pushing People Back to the Office?: How about converting our depopulated downtowns into affordable housing instead? One of the more awkward lines in President Biden's State of the Union address involved returning to a pre-COVID status quo, though he highlighted perhaps the least desirable aspect of that: the slog through a rush hour commute to a box with four walls and apprehensive co-workers. 'It's time for America to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again with people,' Biden said. 'People working from home can feel safe and begin to return to their offices.' It didn't draw the bipartisan applause speechwriters may have expected. This was not a throwaway line. Biden returned to the theme last Friday while discussing the jobs numbers, using substantially the same language. It's an echo of a message that has been offered by mayors and governors off and on over the past several months.

"The US supports illegal annexations by Israel and Morocco. Why the hypocrisy? America must be consistent. It cannot pick and choose when to follow international law Last December, as Russian forces encircled Ukraine, the Biden administration and its allies delivered a stark warning to Vladimir Putin: 'Any use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law.' In January, as Russian troops massed even in even greater numbers, Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that 'the inviolability of frontiers' was among the 'guiding principles for international behavior.' Last month, after Russia's parliament recognized the independence of two self-declared republics Moscow had cleaved from eastern Ukraine, Blinken called this infringement upon 'Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity' a 'gross violation of international law.' All this is indisputably true. Remaking borders by force violates a core principle of international law. Which is why the Biden administration must do more than resist Russia's aggression in Ukraine. It must stop violating that principle itself."

RIP: "William Hurt, Star of Body Heat and Broadcast News Dead at 71: Oscar-winning Kiss of the Spider Woman actor died of natural causes, his family announced Sunday." He had lots of genre credits, of course, but I couldn't find an obit that mentioned Humans, where it delighted me when he turned up.

"We Need to Talk About Profits: Economists routinely ignore a fundamental set of data about the economy. [...] We live in a capitalist economy driven by the profit motive. Yet, ironically, the study of profits remains a shockingly neglected subset of the economic discipline. No Nobel Prize in Economics has ever been given to the study of profits. Economists classify their publications into countless categories (the Journal of Economic Literature's J3 code stands for 'wages, compensation and labor costs'), yet there is no category for profits. The American Economic Review last published an article with the word profits in the title in 2014. It was about the Japanese textile industry at the turn of the 20th century. As for metrics, while Carroll Wright's Bureau of Labor Statistics is still going strong, there is no Bureau of Capital Statistics."

UK prices aren't any worse than America's — in many cases they are much lower, especially for necessities. But this is happening everywhere. "Jack Monroe's thread on reality of UK's cost of living crisis is brutal: This is the real increase in the cost of living - one the vast majority of the media chooses to ignore, the food activist said. This time last year, the cheapest pasta in my local supermarket (one of the Big Four), was 29p for 500g. Today it's 70p. That's a 141% price increase as it hits the poorest and most vulnerable households."

"Motivated Reasoning: Emily Oster's COVID Narratives and the Attack on Public Education: Of the numerous political battles sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, some of the most bitterly contested have taken place over K-12 education. Schools have been a site of decisive struggles over the norms, values, and policies of the U.S. response to the public health crisis. While teachers collectively fought for stronger COVID mitigation measures, a small but vocal minority of parents confronted school boards in acrimonious meetings, demanding an end to remote instruction and mask mandates. These local skirmishes took place against the backdrop of successive COVID surges and a national media narrative that cast doubt on the usefulness of public health measures. It is impossible to understand the failed U.S. pandemic response, which has left over one million people dead, without understanding the role that schools have played as sites of political contestation. And it is impossible to understand the school reopening debate without understanding one of its main interlocutors: academic economist Emily Oster. But despite its prominence, Oster's work on COVID in schools has attracted little scrutiny—even though it has been funded since last summer by organizations that, without exception, have explicit commitments to opposing teacher's unions, supporting charter schools, and expanding corporate freedom. In addition to grants from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Walton Family Foundation, and Arnold Ventures, Oster has received funding from far-right billionaire Peter Thiel. The Thiel grant awarded to Oster was administered by the Mercatus Center, the think tank founded and financed by the Koch family.

"Healthcare for human rights, not profits: what the U.S. can learn from Cuba's Coronavirus response: Cuba's remarkable response to the Coronavirus pandemic highlights the need for a healthcare system that puts people before profits [...] Even in the face of an economic blockade obstructing the shipment of critical medical supplies such as syringes and other basic materials, Cuba has already vaccinated 93% of its population against Coronavirus. Since the initiation of the state's vaccination campaign in August of 2021, Cuba now has one of the highest Coronavirus vaccination rates in the world, with daily infections having drastically declined. In contrast, only 65% of the U.S. population is currently vaccinated against Coronavirus (despite the nation's surplus of vaccines), and daily infections in the U.S. just reached record highs this January."

"Bad News: Selling the story of disinformation [...] The media narrative of sinister digital mind control has obscured a body of research that is skeptical about the effects of political advertising and disinformation. A 2019 examination of thousands of Facebook users by political scientists at Princeton and NYU found that 'sharing articles from fake news domains was a rare activity'—more than 90 percent of users had never shared any. [...] The media scholar Jack Bratich has argued that the contemporary antidisinformation industry is part of a 'war of restoration' fought by an American political center humbled by the economic and political crises of the past twenty years. Depoliticized civil society becomes, per Bratich, 'the terrain for the restoration of authoritative truth-tellers' like, well, Harvard, the New York Times, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In this argument, the Establishment has turned its methods for discrediting the information of its geopolitical enemies against its own citizens. The Biden Administration's National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism—the first of its kind—promises to 'counter the polarization often fueled by disinformation, misinformation, and dangerous conspiracy theories online.' The full report warned not just of right-wing militias and incels, but anticapitalist, environmental, and animal-rights activists too. This comes as governments around the world have started using emergency 'fake news' and 'disinformation' laws to harass and arrest dissidents and reporters. [...] Ironically, to the extent that this work creates undue alarm about disinformation, it supports Facebook's sales pitch. What could be more appealing to an advertiser, after all, than a machine that can persuade anyone of anything? This understanding benefits Facebook, which spreads more bad information, which creates more alarm. Legacy outlets with usefully prestigious brands are taken on board as trusted partners, to determine when the levels of contamination in the information ecosystem (from which they have magically detached themselves) get too high. For the old media institutions, it's a bid for relevance, a form of self-preservation. For the tech platforms, it's a superficial strategy to avoid deeper questions. A trusted disinformation field is, in this sense, a very useful thing for Mark Zuckerberg. [...] The specific American situation was creating specific kinds of people long before the advent of tech platforms."

Glenn Greenwald has gotten a little partisan lately and it really does sound like he spends too much time hanging around with right-wingers, but he's not wrong about the shameful censorship the mass media and Big Tech practiced during the presidential campaign to suppress the story of how a coked-up failson of a wealthy candidate left his laptop lying around, and instead promoted a false, unverified story of how it was all just Russian propaganda. "The NYT Now Admits the Biden Laptop -- Falsely Called 'Russian Disinformation' -- is Authentic: The media outlets which spread this lie from ex-CIA officials never retracted their pre-election falsehoods, ones used by Big Tech to censor reporting on the front-runner." Frankly, I never understood why they thought it was so important to suppress this story. And though I understand why Greenwald was outraged when The Intercept refused to let him publish about it while allowing Risen to promote the story even the CIA wasn't quite willing to stand behind, I never agreed with his reasons for quitting over it. But hey, it was his choice. I mean, you either knew what a piece of crap Biden was or you were so adamantly anti-Trump that you didn't care. And the anti-Trump partisans had already shown that they were willing to engage in any kind of corruption to do what they perceived as ensuring Trump's defeat (as long as it didn't involve nominating Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren). Fox could rail about Biden and his son's nepotism and corruption as much as they liked, but most Democratic voters weren't going to pay much attention to it anyway after years of seeing such scandals as Gore and Obama wearing a different suit and numerous other faked up "exposés". But, left or right, people should be appalled by the willingness of the establishment media to play these blatantly censorious games and to rope "social media" into it as well.

At the same time, The Newspaper of Record thinks free speech means the right to say stupid things and not have anyone criticize you for it - at least if you are The New York Times. Froomkin says "The New York Times editorial board should retract and resign: It's hard to imagine a more fundamental misreading of the freedom of speech — or an organization whose credibility depends more on understanding it correctly — than today's lead editorial from the New York Times editorial board. The First Amendment asserts a right to free speech. It does not assert a right to not be criticized for speech. In fact, it protects critical speech. And the protection is against government action, not against other people."

I'm not going to link to anything about the demise of Mad Albright. Instead, about who she was when she lived. She spoke at a Berkeley commencement ceremony in 2000. She was supposed to speak after the Medalist speaker, but the university got nervous and switched them around. "Commencement Speech by University Medalist Fadia Rafeedie"

Paul Butterfield Blues Band "Mystery Train"

06 March 2022

Coverup: Four dead in Ohio

Last year, John Derf Backderf posted this on Facebook, but since everyone hates Facebook, and it is honestly a pain in the tail, I thought I'd put it here for a nice, easily-accessible link if anyone wants to link it elsewhere.

Since it's the time of year when the events of KENT STATE unfolded, I thought I'd share some items with you.

This event didn't end with the massacre. The days, weeks and months that followed were a depressing lesson in cover-ups, political sleaze and media manipulation. In its own way, it's as shocking a story as the story leading up to the massacre.

The cover-up by the National Guard began within minutes, even before the blood was cleaned off the Prentice Hall parking lot.

The 22 shooters reloaded their clips, to make it appear they hadn't fired their weapons. Guns were ditched, or switched. The armory checkout records for G Troop, the soldiers who did most of the slaughter, vanished. There was no way to ascertain who fired what weapon, or what soldier shot what student.

Almost all the shooters lied on their incident reports and insisted they had not fired. Later, most lied to the FBI, a felony for which they were not prosecuted. Within hours, all the shooters adopted the same defense.

"We thought we were about to be overrun. We felt our lives were in danger. We had no choice."

They weren't about to be overrun. Few of the 50 remaining protestors were anywhere near them when they fired. Most were the length of a football field away. The Guardsmen were in no danger at all. And they definitely had a choice.

The FBI also noted that it was obvious the shooters had quickly consulted attorneys and reached a group decision on what their defense was. Fifty-one years later, the surviving shooters still stick to that defense.

From Columbus, Gen. Del Corso, the reckless and reactionary leader of the National Guard, insisted a student sniper, firing from a rooftop, had caused the Guardsmen to fire in self defense. Del Corso and Gov. Rhodes were convinced the students were armed. They weren't. It would be 3 months before the FBI stated unequivocally, "There was no sniper."

Immediately after the massacre, Guard officers ordered 100 soldiers, some seen here, to fan out over the area and collect evidence, completely contaminating the shooting scene beyond hope. Shell casings were collected, some of which disappeared.

The soldiers were also ordered to round up all the projectiles that were thrown at them, mostly large driveway gravel from student parking lots. Instead, the soldiers went all over campus, especially to the construction area where the new library was being built, and out into surrounding city neighborhoods, and collected a fearsome array of "evidence" : bricks, concrete blocks, lumber, pieces of steel rebar, garden boulders that the school shotputter couldn't have heaved, etc. Gen. Canterbury insisted a fire hydrant had been thrown at him! An average hydrant weighs 300 lbs.! In the photo here, soldiers are marking as evidence a bit of pine branch. Some "weapon"!

This was all displayed on long tables in a campus building and shown to the skeptical press. The FBI later threw out most of this "evidence."

Capt. Snyder of the 145th Infantry, however, produced a pistol, which he says he found on the body of Jeff Miller. Along with a blackjack, just for good measure. He hadn't. The untraceable gun belonged to Snyder, a county deputy by day. So did the blackjack.

It would be FOUR YEARS before Snyder admitted he planted the gun on a dead boy.

In a comment below his original post, with an accompanying photo, he says:
The "shocking" display of weaponry pulled from dorm rooms by county deputies, under orders from Prosecutor Ron Kane.

Baseball bats, hunting knives, fish knives, a decorative samurai sword, a couple decorative flintlock pistols, a starter's gun, a few BB guns, art supplies mistaken for weapons, etc.

Reporters were less than impressed.

Plus the usual amount of drugs you'd expect to find, mostly pot. Some pills, which turned out to be legit prescriptions, and syringes, singled out by Kane as proof of heroin use, but which turned out to belong to diabetics.

Unfortunately for him, Kane had neglected to secure search warrants for this search. A judge quickly threw out charges.

Except one, because there was ONE crime. A deputy had stolen cash he found in the rooms. A humiliated Kane slunk away.

Their names were Allison Krause (19), Jeffrey Miller (20), Sandra Scheuer (20), and William Schroeder (19). Scheuer and Schroeder were not protesting at all, they were just observing from a few hundred feet away during a break between classes. Miller and Kraus and their friends were running away from the Guard when they were shot. Nine others were reported to be injured.

* * * * *

Biden gave his State of the Union address, which I didn't watch, but apparently the Republicans managed to put on a display that made me think, "You know, it's not just breaking government they're up to, it's being willing to make even themselves look like a bunch of trashy rowdies to make sure no one respects government at all." On the Dem side, though, Rashida Tlaib gave the progressive response and creepy spiv Josh Gottheimer gave the Quisling response, and Charlie Pierce says she was the only one who told the truth, when she said, "No one fought harder for President Biden's agenda than progressives. We rallied with our supporters, held town halls in our communities, engaged new people, and we even played hardball in Congress. But two forces stood in the way: A Republican Party that serves only the rich and powerful, and just enough corporate-backed Democratic obstructionists to help them succeed." Says Pierce, "It is incontrovertible that they supported the president's agenda and the Problem Solvers made only problems for it. And none of this had anything to do with Hunter Biden's laptop." Scott Lemieux deals with the reaction to Tlaib in "Josh Gottheimer trying to find the guy who did this: Axios is once again giving a platform to Democratic centrists to whine about colleagues who actually support Biden's agenda: 'Centrist House Democrats are unloading on Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for her plan to give a response to President Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday. 'It's like keying your own car and slashing your own tires,' Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) told Axios.' There is, in fact, a small group of Democrats who are repeatedly keying the car and slashing the tires of the Biden administration, and Gottheimer is their ringleader: [...] It's just amazing that the Problem Creation Caucus is still trying to blame others when they've gotten their way. Their top priority was passed. They refuse to pass the top progressive priority, including its most popular elements. They have no further ideas but tax cuts for the affluent and no positive message at all. To the extent that the midterms go worse than expected, it hangs on them, and trying to blame the Squad is just pathetic. "

"Biden's Big Chance to Lower Drug Prices: A decision on whether to open a costly cancer drug to generic competition will be made shortly. It doesn't require congressional approval. [...] Xtandi was invented due to grants from the U.S. Army and the NIH; all three of its patents disclose those funders. In the case of publicly developed drugs, under the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 the government has so-called 'march-in rights' to effectively extinguish such patents if the drug is not being distributed on 'reasonable terms.' After that, generic companies could market their versions and create competition on price. Activists, public-health experts, and patients have urged the government to use march-in rights on Xtandi, which is owned by a Japanese pharmaceutical conglomerate named Astellas. (Through an acquisition, Pfizer owns half of the U.S. market for the drug, where it and Astellas share costs and profits.) The advocates' argument is that charging U.S. patients significantly more than patients in other high-income countries for the same drug is in fact unreasonable. On January 10, the NIH said it would complete an initial review on how to proceed within a month. A decision is expected imminently." Will he do it? The politics here are all about money. Some of the very people who are in the decision loop are patent-holders getting big royalties. "However, Love believes that ultimately, HHS and the president will decide the fate of the petition. The hope of activists is that using march-in once will discourage other drug companies that used federal grants (which is the overwhelming majority of them) from pricing their products high."

"Judge orders new trial for US woman sentenced to six years for trying to register to vote: Pamela Moses released from prison after Guardian revealed new evidence in case that was not produced at trial. A Memphis judge has ordered a new trial for Pamela Moses, a woman who was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to register to vote. The case attracted national attention following a Guardian report, because of the severity of the sentence. Moses said she had no idea she was ineligible. Moses has been in prison since December, when her bond was revoked. On Thursday, the Guardian revealed new evidence in the case that was not produced at trial. Moses was released from custody on Friday, according to Claiborne Ferguson, her attorney."

I'm trying to avoid the whole Trump/January 6th story, but there's some stuff at TPM that makes me feel even more disgusted with Obama for nominating Garland.

"Documents Reveal Identities Of Three EPA Officials Who Downplayed Chemical Hazards: All three officials have played a significant role in pressuring scientists to dismiss the risks posed by products the EPA is assessing, according to whistleblowers. [...] The first complaint, filed in June, explained that all four whistleblowers experienced having chemical hazards they identified — including developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, mutagenicity, and/or carcinogenicity — removed from assessments. According to a complaint they submitted to the EPA inspector general in early August, the whistleblowers met with opposition from all three named officials in their effort to accurately account for exposure to certain chemicals. On one occasion, according to the complaint, Stedeford revised a report, changing a finding of neurotoxicity after speaking to a representative of the company that made the chemical. Another of their complaints, submitted to the inspector general in late August, described Camacho as deleting hazards from an assessment without the permission of the scientist who worked on it to make the chemical seem less hazardous. And in a complaint filed with the inspector general in November, the whistleblowers documented the case of a chemical used in paint, caulk, ink, and other products that posed health risks, including the risk of cancer. In the latter case, a risk assessor noted the hazards in the assessment, but Henry changed the document to say that the 'EPA did not identify risk' for the chemical."

Andrew Bacevich at The Boston Globe, "US can't absolve itself of responsibility for Putin's Ukraine invasion: The conflict renders a judgment on post-Cold War US policy. That policy has now culminated in a massive diplomatic failure. [...] By casually meddling in Ukrainian politics in recent years, the United States has effectively incited Russia to undertake its reckless invasion. Putin richly deserves the opprobrium currently being heaped on him. But US policy has been both careless and irresponsible."

"Saudi-Russia Collusion Is Driving Up Gas Prices — and Worsening Ukraine Crisis: A spat between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Biden is pushing gas prices ever higher. It started under Obama. As Russia ordered troops into Ukraine on Monday, gas prices soared to their highest levels in over seven years. While the media focuses on the conflict in Ukraine, a major cause of the gas price spike has gone overlooked: Moscow's partnership with Saudi Arabia has grown dramatically in recent years, granting the two largest oil producers in the world the unprecedented ability to collude in oil export decisions. The desert kingdom's relationship with the U.S. has chilled in the meantime, as demonstrated earlier this month, when President Joe Biden pleaded with the Saudis to increase oil production — a move that would not only have helped to alleviate rising inflation and gas prices, but also reduced Russia's extravagant profits amid its aggression against Ukraine. The Saudi king declined. The Saudi and Russian relationship has blossomed under Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose first formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin took place in the summer of 2015. MBS pursued the meeting after then-President Barack Obama declined to meet with him, The Intercept has learned from two sources with knowledge of the matter who were granted anonymity to describe sensitive discussions."

Taibbi, "Putin the Apostate [...] For anyone expecting me to be outraged about this — I am, after all, almost daily denounced as a Putin-lover and apologist, so surely I must want the Great Leader to stay in power forever — I have to disappoint. If Vladimir Putin were captured tomorrow and fired into space, I wouldn't bat an eye. I would like to point out that we already tried regime change in Russia. I remember, because I was there. And, thanks to a lot of lurid history that's being scrubbed now with furious intensity, it ended with Vladimir Putin in power. Not as an accident, or as the face of a populist revolt against Western influence — that came later — but precisely because we made a long series of intentional decisions to help put him there."

"'A Game-Changer': Defying Big Pharma, WHO Expands Vaccine Tech Sharing" 'The pharmaceutical system is being remade from the ground up by lower- and middle-income countries,' said one public health campaigner. The World Health Organization on Wednesday announced it is expanding its mRNA technology transfer efforts to five additional countries as it works to bolster coronavirus vaccine manufacturing in the Global South, an initiative that seeks to overcome persistent obstruction from the pharmaceutical industry and rich nations.

"The Factory Town Poll [...] If Democrats can't start to do better in these counties, the Blue Wall will soon be history, and old swing states like Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio, will become as deep a shade of red as West Virginia, another Factory-Town dominated state that used to be part of the Democratic coalition. [...] It is true (and no surprise) that Factory Town voters are not very happy with the Democratic Party. Democrats have a serious challenge in rebuilding a positive connection with these voters; they trail the Republicans in ratings on who handles many of the issues better; and it won't change overnight. But the basis of that negativity is less about woke language and identity politics than it is about a feeling that, in the midst of hard times for their communities, they have been abandoned and ignored by Democrats. Democrats' biggest problems with these voters are that they are seen as weak, ineffective, and lacking an economic plan that will make people's lives better. [...] Another big clue that it is economics that is central to winning these voters back is that the issues that voters mention as their top concern: the rising cost of living, jobs, and the economy, the rising cost of health care are their top concerns, all mentioned by more than 20% of voters. Considerably lower are the classic Republican culture war wedge issues: immigration, crime, and moral values, none mentioned by more than 13% of the voters."

A story for our times when the company that carries digital versions of some newspapers decides to announce it's making them free to people in Ukraine and five days later the sites are victims of a cyber attack.

"Washington Post/ABC poll asks a question from an alternate universe: Would you rather see the next Congress controlled by the (Republicans, to act as a check on Biden), or controlled by the (Democrats, to support Biden's agenda)?"

"Charity Can't Fix What Neoliberalism Has Broken: A British bus company recently reversed its plans to cut a bus route, but only after a wealthy local offered to fund it himself. A decent society can't rely on wealthy do-gooders to save public services."

Matt Stoller: "Forget the macho hawkish bleating, here's how the West directly helped Russia invading Ukraine. First, we refused to invest in renewable energy FOR DECADES. Second, we turned the USSR into an oligarchy. Third, we made a world safe for those oligarchs. Fourth, we expanded NATO. The end of the Cold War was like the end of World War II, only instead of savvy New Deal strategists who thought 'let's help the vanquished rebuild' we had Larry Summers and Andrei Shleifer who thought 'now's a good moment to rob and steal.'

RIP: "Autherine Lucy Foster dies at 92: Autherine Lucy Foster, the first Black student to attend the University of Alabama in 1956, has died at 92 years old. The news comes less than a week after the University dedicated the College of Education building in her honor. At the dedication ceremony on Feb. 25, the state of Alabama granted her the title of master teacher, which will never be awarded again."

"The Impoverishing Myth of White Privilege [...] When these poor whites arrived in the Americas, their masters continued these ruthless traditions. Whenever they got the chance, these white slaves, and their non-white counterparts, would runaway. The vast size of the Americas, combined with the extreme ethnic and linguistic diversity, made it impossible to tell who was a runaway slave, and who was not. Prosperous communities of former slaves of all ethnic and religious backgrounds emerged across the New World. This was a great thing for runaway slaves, not so great for the 'landowners' hoping to benefit from forced labor. After yet another rebellion where a coalition of ethnic groups fought to toss off the chains of colonial oppression, the ruling elite invented race to stabilize the system. Skin color of course existed before this, but there were no ideas of united races. An individual was Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Akan, Mohawk, Yoruba, etc. In this new system, those of African descent were placed at the very bottom of society to pacify white slaves who made up the majority of the forced laborers. White slaves continued living in horrid conditions, but now had someone to look down upon."

"A Field Guide To The 'Weapons' Of Hostile Architecture In NYC: Earlier this month, Ya-Ting Liu was walking through Fulton Street Station when she noticed something different. The domed transportation hub in Lower Manhattan, which opened in 2014, has been praised by architecture and public space enthusiasts for its airy and light-filled design surrounded by glass and an oculus skylight. Liu, who commutes to work in Manhattan, particularly liked the low ledges by the tall windows which look out onto the streetscape. She would often come there to sit when she was in between meetings or looking for a place to take a call. But on that day, she saw that a row of steel stanchions had been installed to rope off the area. A former student of urban planning, Liu knew exactly what was going on: it was an example of 'hostile' architecture or design that is meant to discourage lingering and other types of public behaviors." That would be infuriating all by itself, of course, but it's also ugly and gives the place a look of being under construction or something. (It's not just happening in NY, of course. Years ago I corresponded with my MP about this when the seating at a local station took an uncomfortable upward turn that made it as tiring to sit as to stand. The claim was that it was meant to discourage people sleeping on the public benches, but since you only had to cross the track to the Jubilee Line platform to find benches that were flat and spacious, this didn't seem to make much sense - especially since my train had a lot longer wait between.)

I'm all for recycling but I never expected roads to be surfaced by used diapers.

From 2013: "Study: Politicians think voters are way more conservative than they actually are: "A new working paper published this week by two political science graduate students may help explain why Americans' faith in Congress has dipped to historic lows: Politicians tend to vastly overestimate just how conservative their constituents really are."

"Why People Born 1955-1964 Aren't Baby Boomers: Ode to Generation Jones: punks, yuppies, but never hippies."

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Full Concert - 11/03/91 - Golden Gate Park