16 October 2023

Look, yeah, but don't touch

Sy Hersh, "'Netanyahu Is Finished': The Bibi doctrine—his belief that he could control Hamas—compromised Israeli security and has now begat a bloody war [...] The most important thing I needed to understand, the Israeli insider told me, is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 'is finished. He is a walking dead man. He will stay in office only until the shooting stops . . . maybe another month or two.' He served as prime minister from 1996 until 1999 and again, as leader of the right-wing Likud Party, from 2009 to 2021, returning for a third stint in late 2022. 'Bibi was always opposed to the 1993 Oslo Accords,' the insider said, which initially gave the Palestinian Authority nominal control over both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. When he returned to office in 2009, the insider said, 'Bibi chose to support Hamas' as an alternative to the Palestinian Authority, 'and gave them money and established them in Gaza.' An arrangement was made with Qatar, which began sending hundreds of millions of dollars to the Hamas leadership with Israeli approval. The insider told me that 'Bibi was convinced that he would have more control over Hamas with the Qatari money—let them occasionally fire rockets into southern Israel and have access to jobs inside Israel—than he would with the Palestinian Authority. He took that risk."

"The Violence in Palestine and Israel Is the Tragic Fruit of Brutal Oppression: The tragic scenes unfolding in Palestine and Israel are a chilling reminder of the horrors that occupation creates — and the urgency of dismantling Israel's blockades and apartheid system." For months now we have been seeing increasingly brutal attacks on Palestinians, with settler mobs burning villages and killing civilians with no intervention from anywhere, and yet the media treats a retaliatory strike from Hamas as "unprovoked".

The Times of Israel, "For years, Netanyahu propped up Hamas. Now it's blown up in our faces: The premier's policy of treating the terror group as a partner, at the expense of Abbas and Palestinian statehood, has resulted in wounds that will take Israel years to heal from. For years, the various governments led by Benjamin Netanyahu took an approach that divided power between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — bringing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to his knees while making moves that propped up the Hamas terror group."

"Is Landmark Technology's Two-Decade Patent Assault On E-Commerce Finally Over?: Landmark Technology's U.S. Patent No. 7,010,508, and its predecessor, are very likely two of the most-abused patents in U.S. history. These patents, under two different owners, have been used to threaten thousands of small businesses since 2001." Someone finally took these patent trolls to court and after two years of litigation said no, you can't claim a patent for just doing ordinary stuff all computers routinely do.

Howie Klein on "What The Senate Appointment Tells Us About Laphonza Butler AND Presidential Wanna Be Gavin Newsom: Another mediocre corporatist appointment from Gavin Newsom shouldn't surprise anyone. Even after he came out with his cringe-worthy statement about appointing a Black woman, he certainly was never going to appoint a progressive icon like Barbara Lee. So he made up a plausible excuse about not appointing anyone running in 2024 (ie, Barbara Lee). Like with all of his appointments, he wanted someone from the corporate-friendly wing of the Democratic Party. So what do we know about Maryland resident Laphonza Butler?" We know that her "liberal" credentials aren't what they might seem to people who don't know about how EMILY's List has turned into a corrupt money-making machine that pushes conservative women over progressive candidates, and that she's one of the reasons why Uber and Lyft drivers still don't have the rights they need. And that's just how Newsome wants it. And something curious happened last month, too: "Laphonza Butler's Emily's List Spends Millions On Kamala Harris While Laying Off Grassroots Staff."

"Starbucks Illegally Kept Wages, Benefits From Union Workers: Starbucks Corp. broke federal labor law when it boosted wages and benefits only for workers in non-unionized stores across the US last year, a National Labor Relations Board judge held. Thursday's decision from Administrative Law Judge Mara-Louise Anzalone marks the first nationwide ruling against the coffee giant amid its resistance to a unionization wave that began two years ago. Starbucks violated the National Labor Relations Act in August 2022 by lifting wages to at least $15 an hour and providing benefits such as credit card tipping, increased training, and faster sick time accrual to all stores that weren't unionized, the judge said."

"The Open Plot to Dismantle the Federal Government [...] As he runs again for a second term, Trump is vowing to 'dismantle the deep state' and ensure that the government he would inherit aligns with his vision for the country. Unlike during his 2016 campaign, however, Trump and his supporters on the right—including several former high-ranking members of his administration—have developed detailed proposals for executing this plan. Immediately upon his inauguration in January 2025, they would seek to convert thousands of career employees into appointees fireable at will by the president. They would assert full White House control over agencies, including the Department of Justice, that for decades have operated as either fully or partially independent government departments." And people who claim to oppose "crony capitalism" didn't even gasp.

"The Democrats Lost September: You guys awake? [...] I'll return to the Democrats in a moment, but for my money the most revealing development of all had nothing to do with Trump, or the Democratic Party. Instead it was how Republicans reacted to the discovery that Menendez appears to be on the take from foreign interests who've plied him with cash and gold bouillon. On almost any other timeline, Republicans would've tried to make not just Menendez but every Democrat in Washington call to mind sleazy machine pols whose pockets jingle and spill over as they walk because they're stuffed with bribes. But not on this timeline. Not on the timeline where the GOP has closed ranks around a growing list of crooks, including George Santos and Clarence Thomas, with Trump at the center. The Republican Party has spent years preemptively sanctifying all of its internal corruption, dismissing all evidence as the product of frame-up jobs and media fabrication, because their fealty to Trump is not compatible with upholding the rule of law or accountability for lower-ranking members. And so with the party fully at war with the Justice Department and the old standards of ethical leadership, they can't now claim to say the feds have the goods in this instance, and that Menendez must thus relinquish public office. They've thus found themselves actively defending Menendez and discouraging Democrats from pressuring him to retire."

"Lawsuit Highlights Why Meat Has Been Overpriced for 40 Years: Agri Stats lets meat processors coordinate their pricing. The Justice Department finally decided to go after what it calls collusion.The federal lawsuit filed last week against Amazon, which was so hopelessly redacted we don't quite know what's in it yet, could ultimately have the biggest impact of any antitrust action we've seen in the Biden administration. By the same token, the currently active trials against Google for exclusionary dealing, against Sam Bankman-Fried for crypto fraud, and against Donald Trump for massively overstating the value of his real estate holdings are all interesting in their own way. But a separate case from the Department of Justice against an agricultural analyst service called Agri Stats is perhaps the most emblematic of the old patterns of corporate America, and the new aggressiveness of this wave of antitrust enforcement. Agri Stats, as described in the complaint, is essentially a work-around for explicit collusion by meat processors. The company delivers weekly reports based on proprietary data given to them by meat processors, which have so much granular detail that everyone in the industry knows precisely what everyone else is doing, including the prices they're offering. This allows for specific coordination that raises prices for everyone purchasing meat, while boosting profits for the processor middlemen."

"Retail theft isn't actually increasing much, major industry study finds: Retail theft has caught the attention of the masses in recent years, from startling smash-and-grab videos during the depths of the Covid pandemic to corporate earnings calls where retailers like Target and Foot Locker are discussing losses from organized retail crime more than they ever have. But the effect of theft on retailers' bottom lines is about the same as it has been for years, according to the latest data released Tuesday in the widely used industry survey conducted by the National Retail Federation."

"The Pentagon runs the top performing school system in the U.S." Why? They're well-funded, economically (and every other way) integrated, teachers are well-paid, and all the students are housed. It's worth remembering that the average American student scores overall went down as the middle-class shrank.

"The U.S. Government is preparing for a fentanyl WMD attack: Joe Biden didn't make a WMD designation, but federal agencies acted anyway — kicking off a panic among police."

RIP: "The Isley Brothers' Rudolph Isley Dead At 84" — Their hits made a surprisingly long percentage of the soundtrack of my life. Here they are in 1959 doing the original version of "Shout", which they wrote.

RIP: "Piper Laurie, Oscar-Nominated Carrie and The Hustler Star, Dead at 91: Laurie's seven-decade film and television career also included memorable roles in Twin Peaks and Children of a Lesser God." As a sex education advocate, I have invoked Carrie's mother often. But there was a whole lot more to this wonderful actress. And you might like the story of her encounter with Ronald Reagan. And here she is as Mom on Will & Grace.

"People think drug use causes homelessness. It's usually the other way around: For those who did use drugs in the last six months, 40% of people started using — more than 3 times a week —after becoming homeless. Thirty-one percent of those individuals reported using methamphetamine and 11% used nonprescription opioids more than three times per week. Those who spent most of their nights unsheltered in a non-vehicle (sleeping outside, in tents, in places not meant for human habitation) and individuals who were homeless for more than a year had higher proportions of methamphetamine and opioid use." The meth is for staying awake so you can guard your stuff.

"The Neoliberal Model Is Destroying Innovation in Science: Over the past few decades, scientists have been making fewer and fewer innovative breakthroughs. The blame lies with academia's increasingly competitive, metrics-driven model, which discourages creativity and risk-taking."

"Sex Ed Books Don't 'Groom' Kids And Teens. They Protect Them. [...] At an event, a librarian shared with Harris that It's Perfectly Normal kept disappearing from the shelves. She replaced it several times, but it kept happening, and it was beyond their budget to keep doing so. Then, one day, they all came back in a backpack with a note: 'I took this book because I thought no child or teenager should read it. Then my 14-year-old niece got pregnant, and now I realize that children do need books like this.'"

"What I Most Regret About My Decades of Legal Activism: By focusing on civil liberties but ignoring economic issues, liberals like me got defeated on both. [...] Given my background, the reversal of Roe last year felt like a crushing blow. But as I reflect on my career in the law, my greatest regrets lie elsewhere. The progressive advances of mid-20th-century America weren't, after all, only about civil rights and social justice. Equally important was the political-economic arrangement established during and after the World War II era. It featured a powerful regulatory state, aggressive antitrust enforcement, and strong labor unions. These policies kept corporate power in check and helped drive the fastest, most widely shared advance in living standards in American history. [...] In a 2003 antitrust case, for example, all of the liberals joined an opinion by Antonin Scalia that declared, 'The mere possession of monopoly power, and the concomitant charging of monopoly prices, is not only not unlawful; it is an important element of the free-market system.' In 2017, Breyer wrote the majority opinion in a case upholding the right of debt-collection companies to go after people for money they no longer owed. The same year, Sonia Sotomayor wrote an opinion that limited the Securities and Exchange Commission's power to force those found guilty of securities fraud to give up their stolen gains. Liberal judges have issued opinions like these while simultaneously championing progressive positions on issues such as abortion and voting rights. By delivering measurable wins to business-side conservatives, they have helped fuel an engine designed precisely to unravel the civil rights they held so dear. The more the courts favor big business, the more powerful big business becomes, and the more powerful big business becomes, the more financial support it can lend to the right-wing legal movement."

"The One Media Conspiracy Theory That's True: It's kind of impressive how long cable news has been openly corrupt. [...] There are, to be sure, segments of the American media that are riven with devastating flaws. But like most conspiracy theories, the real conspiracies aren't secrets. They're the things we already know. The 'elite media'—the NYT, the New Yorker, the Washington Post—is, in fact, a schmoozy high class backwater riddled with people who got their jobs because they were roommates with the right person at Yale. They come by their elitism honestly. They are products made by and for people whose entire lives have been defined by their ability to ascend America's cultural ladder. This is their biggest failing, and the cause of their worst blind spots, which are significant. These types of publications also navigate the demands of access journalism with varying levels of success, always in danger of becoming too cozy with the other elite power centers they are covering. At the same time, these are big institutions that employ more good reporters than any other institutions in this country and have the resources to produce a quantity of useful journalism that nowhere else does. They are flawed, they are elitist, and they are vital. All of these things are true. When they fuck up, we all yell at them, and if the yelling gets loud enough they sometimes make a change. None of this is shadowy or concealed. Have the brightest writer at your Oklahoma community newspaper try to get a job at the New Yorker. They can't! Ta-da! Elitism! It ain't hard to sniff out." But when the cable news anchors are connected political operatives or relatives of powerful politicians, that's not just your standard elitism, that's a cesspool.

Cory Doctorow reviews a book, "Brian Merchant's Blood In the Machine: In Blood In the Machine, Brian Merchant delivers the definitive history of the Luddites, and the clearest analysis of the automator's playbook, where 'entrepreneurs'' lawless extraction from workers is called 'innovation' and 'inevitable'"

"James Carville Has Never Stopped Being Wrong: Like an aged one-hit wonder, James Carville has made a career of playing his favorite tune over and over: a warmed-over centrist jeremiad against the Left that has proved to be as wrong as it is stale."

How Whittaker Chambers reviewed Atlas Shrugged: "Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal."

"Alan Lomax's Massive Music Archive Is Online: Features 17,000 Historic Blues & Folk Recordings: A huge treasure trove of songs and interviews recorded by the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax from the 1940s into the 1990s have been digitized and made available online for free listening. The Association for Cultural Equity, a nonprofit organization founded by Lomax in the 1980s, has posted some 17,000 recordings.

I clicked on this link somewhere and didn't hate it. The Killers, Hot Fuss

The Isley Brothers, "Who's That Lady?"

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