11 December 2023

I'm convinced that I'd wind up burning, too

It's that time of year again, so let's start things off with Daveed Diggs and "Puppy for Hanukkah"! And, of course, "Carol of the Bells" (which was not originally written for Christmas, or even for winter, but now it means December to me). The ancient midi I've been posting for years at Advent finally succumbed to linkrot, so we'll just dive right into to the smashing Brian Brink version.

Remember back when MSNBC canceled Phil Donahue's show (their highest-rated show!) because they didn't like him opposing the invasion of Iraq? Well, right on time, they've canceled Mehdi Hasan: "No high-profile journalist has been more assertive about Palestinian rights than Mehdi Hasan, and MNSBC punished him on Thursday by taking away the TV shows he hosted on the network and on NBC's streaming service. Does this mean that standing up for Palestinians is a death sentence in the mainstream media – even at MSNBC? Hasan is also hands-down the best interviewer in American news right now. He confronts and enlightens. He should be on TV every night."

"Netanyahu's Goal for Gaza: 'Thin' Population 'to a Minimum': The White House requested billions to support refugee resettlement from Ukraine and Gaza in October. [...] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tasked his top adviser, Ron Dermer, the minister of strategic affairs, with designing plans to 'thin' the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip 'to a minimum,' according to a bombshell new report in an Israeli newspaper founded by the late Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The outlet, Israel Hayom, is considered to be something of an official organ for Netanyahu. It reported that the plan has two main elements: The first would use the pressure of the war and humanitarian crisis to persuade Egypt to allow refugees to flow to other Arab countries, and the second would open up sea routes so that Israel 'allows a mass escape to European and African countries.' Dermer, who is originally from Miami, is a Netanyahu confidante and was previously Israeli ambassador to the United States, and enjoys close relations with many members of Congress. [...] Israel Today and other Israeli media are also reporting on a plan being pushed with Congress that would condition aid to Arab nations on their willingness to accept Palestinian refugees. The plan even proposes specific numbers of refugees for each country: Egypt would take one million Palestinians, half a million would go to Turkey, and a quarter million each would go to Yemen and Iraq. The reporting relies heavily on the passive voice, declining to say who put the proposal together: 'The proposal was shown to key figures in the House and Senate from both parties. Longtime lawmaker, Rep. Joe Wilson, has even expressed open support for it while others who were privy to the details of the text have so far kept a low profile, saying that publicly coming out in favor of the program could derail it.' [...] Back on October 20, in a little-noticed message to Congress, the White House asked for $3.495 billion that would be used for refugees from both Ukraine and Gaza, referencing 'potential needs of Gazans fleeing to neighboring countries.' 'This crisis could well result in displacement across border and higher regional humanitarian needs, and funding may be used to meet evolving programming requirements outside of Gaza,' the letter from the White House Office of Management and Budget reads. The letter came two days after Jordan and Egypt warned they would not open their borders to a mass exodus of Palestinians, arguing that past history shows they would never be able to return."

RIP: "Norman Lear, celebrated US TV writer and producer, dies aged 101 [...] Lear entered the zeitgeist in the 70s, with the production of television sitcoms such as All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons and Good Times."

RIP: "Denny Laine, co-founder of The Moody Blues and member of Wings, of lung disease at 79. He won my heart with his rendition of "Go Now".

ROT IN PERDIITION: I can't pick which headline I like better,
• "Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved by America's Ruling Class, Finally Dies: The infamy of Nixon's foreign-policy architect sits, eternally, beside that of history's worst mass murderers. A deeper shame attaches to the country that celebrates him," from Spencer Ackerman in Rolling Stone, or
• "Henry Kissinger, America's Most Notorious War Criminal, Dies At 100: The titan of American foreign policy was complicit in millions of deaths — and never showed remorse for his decisions," at HuffPo. Within an hour or so of the announcement of Kissinger's death, the entire front page of HuffPo was...accurate.

And, I don't know how well the Palestinians would have liked the idea, but once upon a time, "On Top of Everything Else, Henry Kissinger Prevented Peace in the Middle East: Let's not forget that Kissinger's crimes included the deaths of thousands of Arabs and Israelis." Not so much because he loved Israel but because he couldn't stand any idea that involved cooperating with the USSR.

It's about time: "Clarence Thomas' Benefactors Finally Face the Music [...] This is not an abstract project: No fewer than four cases the court is to decide in this term alone could dramatically advance this agenda, including a case that would allow the justices to rewrite regulations that affect our air, water, labor practices, consumer finance, and a host of other questions. Known as the Chevron doctrine, the legal principle at issue in one of these cases has been the subject of years of criticism orchestrated by Leo and Crow. And Justice Thomas, who defended the doctrine in a 2005 opinion, has since become its primary critic on the court following years of unofficial and undisclosed gifts by these benefactors. He also failed (again) to disclose his participation in exclusive fundraisers and gatherings where the reversal of the Chevron doctrine was often a topic of discussion. For any official to accept undisclosed gifts of the magnitude reported this year would warrant a Senate investigation. The fact that these gifts came from people engaged in a covert effort to shape the court, its power, and its opinions makes an investigation into how these gifts may have influenced the justices all the more urgent. [...] For any official to accept undisclosed gifts of the magnitude reported this year would warrant a Senate investigation. The fact that these gifts came from people engaged in a covert effort to shape the court, its power, and its opinions makes an investigation into how these gifts may have influenced the justices all the more urgent." Seriously, Leonard Leo and his gang deserve to be in jail for bribery, and Thomas and Roberts for accepting bribes.

I watched this 18:35 interview with Ted Cruz and wanted to slap him so hard. I mean, sure, you have to know anyone who utters the phrase "cultural Marxism" with a straight face is a nitwit, but the more he talks, the more you wonder just how wrong it's possible for someone to be. (And no, Ted, "Never again" isn't just about Jews, it's about everyone.)

Doctorow: "'If buying isn't owning, piracy isn't stealing' [...] 20 years ago, Chris Anderson told me that it was unrealistic to expect tech companies to refuse demands for DRM from the entertainment companies whose media they hoped to play. My argument – then and now – was that any tech company that sells you a gadget that can have its features revoked is defrauding you. You're paying for x, y and z – and if they are contractually required to remove x and y on demand, they are selling you something that you can't rely on, without making that clear to you. But it's worse than that. When a tech company designs a device for remote, irreversible, nonconsensual downgrades, they invite both external and internal parties to demand those downgrades. Like Pavel Chekov says, a phaser on the bridge in Act I is going to go off by Act III. Selling a product that can be remotely, irreversibly, nonconsensually downgraded inevitably results in the worst person at the product-planning meeting proposing to do so. The fact that there are no penalties for doing so makes it impossible for the better people in that meeting to win the ensuing argument, leading to the moral injury of seeing a product you care about reduced to a pile of shit."

Greedflation Watch: "Republican Senate candidate's family egg company caught in price-fixing plot: Several food giants claimed that Rose Acre Farms – which John Rust chaired until recently – unlawfully fixed the prices of eggs" Something might actually be done about that one since the complaint came from the industry.

"Federal Agencies Can Disable Employer Debt TRAPs : Advocacy groups offer a road map for how agencies can use existing authority to ban contracts that force workers to pay employers if they leave their job. Nearly two dozen advocacy groups are urging the Biden administration to ban the spreading practice of 'stay-or-pay' contracts, which force workers to compensate employers, sometimes for tens of thousands of dollars, if they leave their job before a set time period. The New York Times Magazine recently reported on these provisions, an innovation of the private equity industry that can require workers to pay 'liquidated damages' for on-the-job training or use of equipment, or unspecified damages resulting from the cost of recruiting a replacement, or even 'lost profits' from a worker's departure. Seven detailed memos sent to federal agencies and the White House over the past two months and released this week argue that these provisions operate as 'de facto non-compete agreements' that lock workers into jobs and prevent them from speaking out about wages or working conditions. The contracts, the memos assert, violate numerous federal statutes that both protect workers from exploitation and more broadly protect health and safety. Therefore, federal agencies can use existing authorities to eliminate them from the workplace."

"Here's What Ethical AI Really Means" is about a lot more than AI, because AI is just all the existing systems and biases and existing effects sucked in and spat out.

"These magnificent purple and green lights aren't auroras. This is Steve."

"Sleeping polar bear and illuminated jellyfish in running for Wildlife Photographer of the Year prize"

"Charges Dismissed Against Wyoming Ranchers For Bleaching Penises Onto Cows: A Crook County, Wyoming, judge has dismissed property destruction charges against a pair of ranchers accused of bleaching penis shapes and other markings on their neighbor's cows."

Paul Williams, "The Hell Of It"

No comments:

Post a Comment