…well, it’s not monday…so we got that going for us…but as the song says, “tuesday’s just as bad”
“I come to you with not great news,” Vishal Garg, CEO of Better.com, is heard saying at the beginning of the video call made on Wednesday last week. Footage of the call was widely circulated on social media.
“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately,” Garg continued, citing changes in the market, “efficiency” and “productivity” as the reasons behind the mass termination.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/07/not-great-news-us-boss-fires-900-employees-on-a-zoom-call
…don’t think that piece mentions it but I came across something somewhere that seemed to suggest that company got a round of investment just last week…so that somehow seems to make it worse…to have just got paid before telling 900 employees you aren’t going to be paying them any more seems a tad hypocritical…but then that seems to be pretty much “the style at the time” as abe simpson might say
…there’s pretty much an overabundance of examples…but here’s one
“We need to look at new ways of penalising them. Things that will actually interfere with their lives,” the prime minister told the Sun on Sunday. “So we will look at taking away their passports and driving licences.”
He added: “What I want to see is a world in which we have penalties for lifestyle drug users that will seriously interfere with their enjoyment of their own lifestyles.”https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/dec/06/middle-class-drug-users-could-lose-uk-passports-under-boris-johnsons-plans
…that article suggests there’s an estimated 1 million people in the UK using cocaine…which may or may not be an accurate estimate…but…well
The speaker of the House of Commons has said he is calling in police to investigate reports that drug use is “rife” in the British Parliament — as Prime Minister Boris Johnson dressed up as a police officer to promote his tough new anti-drug strategy for the country.
A report in Britain’s Sunday Times said a dozen sites inside the Palace of Westminster, which includes the House of Lords and House of Commons, tested positive for traces of cocaine.
Areas of interest included the bathrooms nearest Johnson’s office and those of Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is in charge of domestic security.
The paper reported that cannabis was also “being used openly” within the vicinity.
Of 12 bathrooms tested for drugs with detection wipes, cocaine was reportedly found in 11 of the locations, including places that can be best accessed only by those with a designated parliamentary pass, including lawmakers and staffers, alongside clerks, librarians, security personnel, waiters and journalists. Different passes allow different levels of access to halls, bars, committee rooms and cubbyholes within the Victorian-age premises.
Johnson is also facing a controversy of another kind: The British press is publishing allegations that there was a staff party held at 10 Downing Street on Dec. 18 last year, when such gatherings were banned because of lockdown measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 146,000 lives in the United Kingdom.
Last week, the Mirror tabloid splashed a story on its front page saying the prime minister gave a speech at a “packed” goodbye party for a top aide “when the country was in the grip of its second lockdown.” The newspaper said there was a second party with guests “knocking back glasses of wine during a Christmas quiz and a Secret Santa while the rest of the country was forced to stay at home.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/12/06/british-parliament-cocaine-toilets/
…so about that party-that-wasn’t-against-the-don’t-have-parties rule
Two Labour MPs have reported this to the police. In the House of Commons on Monday, Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said people in his Ilford constituency were being prosecuted for holding an indoor gathering on the same day.
Questioning Sajid Javid, the health secretary, he said: “Isn’t it time that the government comes clean about the event in Downing Street on that same day, admit they broke the rules and apologise – or does the secretary of state believe, as the prime minister appears to, that it’s one rule for them and another rule for everyone else?”https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/dec/06/dominic-cummings-very-unwise-for-no-10-to-lie-about-christmas-parties
…there’s a non-zero chance that it included use of what are called “class A” drugs of the sort that boris’ bluster about getting tough would like to make a reason for taking people’s passports away…although obviously not the sort of people who get invited to christmas parties at downing street…I mean (to brutally mis-quote the blues brothers) you’d look pretty fucking stupid trying to be the foreign secretary with no fucking passport
The prime minister has admitted trying both cocaine and cannabis while at university.
The communities and levelling-up secretary has been one of the most open leading UK politicians about his drug use, saying in 2019 he had used cocaine it several times.
The Labour leader hasn’t admitted using drugs, but also has very much not denied, it. In a TV interview with Piers Morgan he batted away more than a dozen questions about drug use, saying only that he had “worked hard and played hard” at university.
The shadow levelling up secretary was more candid, telling ITV, when asked about drug use at university: “I’ve engaged in all sorts of things over the years, but I do regret it actually. You take risks when you’re younger and you don’t understand the consequences. I certainly didn’t think through the consequences of the things that I was doing when I was 17 or 18 years old, but you learn from it.”
It’s a terrible thing, when you can hear a man sweat through the radio. The Home Office minister Kit Malthouse was being questioned by Mishal Husain on the Today programme this morning, about last year’s Downing Street Christmas party. If it was as described – two-score people at least, in the same room, drinking and playing party games – then how could it have been within the rules? “This is hypothetical,” Malthouse kept saying, as if he was tapping into an ancient interview woo-hoo, the magic word you could say to make it all stop. Unfortunately, he was not. Finally, he executed his handbrake turn: he couldn’t comment on the party, because he didn’t know what had happened; he couldn’t find out what had happened, because he was much more focused on the war on drugs.
Mired in terrible headlines, one story of corruption or incompetence after another, each untoward event reminding the world of some past promise that never materialised, the prime minister has seized the agenda by the throat. He has a new enemy (drug dealers); a new feral underclass (drug takers); a new initiative (take away all their passports and driving licences); a new slogan (it’s a war on drugs); and a new load of old blarney. “Drugs … are not going to make you cooler,” Johnson said. “They’re bad news.” Not since Zammo’s rap has such an unarguable message had such a counterproductive messenger. Nothing has ever made me want to take drugs more than this wreck of a man telling me they’re bad news. And I’m writing this at nine in the morning.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/06/tories-waging-war-on-drugs-cocaine-all-over-parliamentary-loos
…do as we say, not as we do…it’s hardly new or unique behavior from politicians…but its enduring efficacy kind of sticks in the craw
The US Department of Justice is suing Texas over its new electoral maps, saying the plans violate the Voting Rights Act by making it more difficult for Black and Latino voters to elect their preferred candidates.
Minority voters accounted for 95% of population growth in Texas over the last decade but there are no new majority-minority districts in the new plans. Texas gained two new seats in Congress because of its high population growth over the last decade.
Republicans who control the redistricting process drew the lines to shore up their advantage across Texas, blunting the surge in the state’s non-white population. The new maps give Republicans a hold on 25 of Texas’s 38 congressional seats and help them maintain their majorities in the state legislature, where they’ve pushed a sweeping number of conservative policies, including anti-abortion measures and easing gun regulations.
Vanita Gupta, the No 3 official at the justice department, said some of the districts were drawn with “discriminatory intent”. She also noted that Texas is a repeat offender when it comes to voting discrimination, highlighting that courts have repeatedly found that the state has discriminated against minority voters over the last several decades.
The lawsuit asks the federal court to halt any future elections from taking place under the new maps for Congress and the Texas House of Representatives and to come up with an interim plan while the case proceeds. The filing period for candidates in Texas for next year’s elections, set to take place under the challenged maps, is already underway.
In their Monday press conference, both Garland and Gupta called for Congress to restore a provision of the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of voting discrimination, including Texas, to get electoral maps and voting changes approved by the federal government before they went into effect.
The US supreme court gutted that provision in 2013. In 2011, the DoJ used the provision to prevent some of Texas’s initial proposed maps from going into effect.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/06/texas-voting-rights-doj-electoral-maps
…I mean…saying things like “oh, look – a hypocritical politician” is pretty deep into statement-of-the-obvious territory…it’s pretty much “an accident of hourly proof” to once again press a quote into service that deserves better
Wisconsin’s self-defense law led to Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal on homicide charges, sparking protests across the state and the country. Now, advocates are calling for justice for a child sex trafficking survivor in the state, holding that if Rittenhouse could successfully claim self-defense, then she can, too.
A group of demonstrators gathered this month at Kenosha’s Civic Center Park to protest the Rittenhouse verdict and highlight the case of Chrystul Kizer, who is awaiting trial on charges of killing her alleged sex trafficker three years ago, when she was 17. She says she shot him in self defense.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/rittenhouse-verdict-advocates-demand-justice-chrystul-kizer
According to Wisconsin law, “a person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference with his or her person by such other person.”
It was later revealed by The Washington Post that both prosecutors and Kenosha police had evidence that Volar, who is white, had abused Kizer and other underage Black girls. Just months before his death, a 15-year-old girl accused him of drugging and threatening to kill her, according to the Post. And police found exploitative videos of Volar abusing girls who appeared as young as 12, the Post reported.
Kizer is one of many “criminalized survivors,” people imprisoned for killing or injuring their alleged abusers. Cyntoia Brown spent 15 years in prison for killing a man who solicited her for sex when she was 16. Marissa Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault in 2010 for firing a warning shot in her Florida home to scare off her allegedly abusive estranged husband. In New York, advocates are demanding that authorities drop all charges against Tracy McCarter, who faces 25 years to life in prison for killing her estranged husband.
…it’s like…I dunno…we keep getting chances to learn…& sticking with the devil we know or something
A federal investigation that re-examined the murder of Emmett Till ended Monday after the Justice Department failed to find proof that a key figure in the case lied, a senior level law enforcement official said.
Deborah Watts, Till’s cousin, said in 2017 that investigators were looking into whether Donham admitted to lying about the incident. A previous federal investigation opened in 2004 and a subsequent grand jury inquiry went nowhere, as prosecutors noted that the statute of limitations for criminal charges had passed.
Donham was reported to have recanted her story to the author Timothy B. Tyson, telling him she lied about the incident.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/justice-department-closes-inquiry-murder-emmett-finds-no-proof-accuser-lied
But Donham denied to federal investigators that she lied in her testimony, a source with knowledge of the case said, and there were inconsistencies with statements made by Tyson. Justice Department officials plan to release a memo after they brief Till’s family in Chicago, the source added.
…& refusing to learn the painful lessons of experience…well, that part we seem to be pretty good at collectively speaking…which, well…seems unlikely to be great
Professor Sarah Gilbert, an Oxford University academic who won acclaim for her role in developing a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine in less than a year, warned against complacency in tackling future threats.
“This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods,” she said in a lecture at Oxford University due to be broadcast by the BBC on Monday night. “The truth is, the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both.”
In comments shared with news media in advance, she argued that the global pandemic shows the importance of being prepared for the next health emergency: “The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost.”
The experts who worked to develop vaccines “must not now be asked to fade back into patient and under-funded obscurity,” Gilbert added.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/oxford-vaccine-co-creator-warns-pandemic-even-deadly
Gilbert was delivering the annual Richard Dimbleby Lecture, named after a pioneering BBC broadcaster who died in 1965, where an expert in business, science or politics explains a topical issue.
…speaking of which…if you fancy venturing into the realm of BBC lectures…the reith lectures are generally pretty good & it seems like this year’s run are variations on the theme of AI…anyway…moving back to things that lack signs of intelligence
…I mean…I know his “farm” isn’t indicative of a man planning to while away his days communing with the land or anything…but that seems like a decision that’s probably the closest he’ll ever get to running into a burning building
The publicly traded company that plans to merge with former president Donald Trump’s media company is under investigation by two federal regulators, which have asked for stock trading information and communications.
Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC) disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing that it had received “certain preliminary, fact-finding inquiries” from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in late October and early November regarding stock trading tied to the merger agreement announced Oct. 20.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/12/06/trump-space-sec-investigation/
The former president, who’s been banned on Twitter and Facebook, announced the launch of the Truth Social platform in October. Trump’s company was presented as a “media powerhouse” that can compete with a “liberal media consortium” and Big Tech companies, which he has accused of silencing conservative voices, according to a company presentation.
Truth Social would compete with Facebook and Twitter, according to the overview, while separate offerings called TMTG+ and TMTG News would go up against Netflix, Disney Plus, CNN and the podcast maker iHeart Media. It also described a “Long Term Opportunity TMTG Tech Stack” that would fall into the cloud-computing sphere.
Some have questioned whether Trump’s company can follow through on its broad-reaching plans.
…which isn’t to say there isn’t money to be made
Records reviewed by The Washington Post show that Defending the Republic raised more than $14 million, a sum that reveals the reach and resonance of one of the most visible efforts to fundraise using baseless claims about the 2020 election. Previously unreported records also detail acrimony between Powell and her top lieutenants over how the money — now a focus of inquiries by federal prosecutors and Congress — was being handled.
The split has left Powell, who once had Trump’s ear, isolated from other key figures in the election-denier movement. Even so, as head of Defending the Republic, she controlled $9 million as recently as this summer, according to an audited financial statement from the group. The mistrust of U.S. elections that she and her former allies stoked endures. Polls show that one-third of Americans — including a majority of Republicans — believe that Trump lost because of fraud.https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/sidney-powell-defending-republic-donations/2021/12/06/story.html
“Business is good and accountability is low, which means we’re just going to see continued use of this playbook,” [Matt] Masterson [a former senior U.S. cybersecurity official who tracked 2020 election integrity for the Department of Homeland Security] said. “Well-meaning folks that have been told that the election was stolen are giving out money that they might not otherwise be able to give.”
The group’s financial statement, publicly filed last month in Florida, shows the organization raised $14.9 million between Dec. 1, 2020, and July 31. Of that, it spent about $5.6 million, mostly on legal fees and unspecified awards and grants. It gave $550,000 to help fund the Republican-commissioned ballot review in Arizona, according to a separate accounting by the contractor that led the review.
…but it seems pretty clear that shit ain’t right…however much it may be a mainstay of the right…one way or another it seems like there’s a distinct possibility that the scales of justice are a little out of whack
New York City offers a prime example of a problem endemic to the nation. Consider the city’s official reaction to the barrelful of misconduct in Queens that a group of law professors recently brought to light. As The Times reported last month, the professors filed grievances against 21 prosecutors in the borough — for everything from lying in open court to withholding key evidence from the defense — and then posted those grievances to a public website.
These weren’t close calls. In every instance an appeals court had made a finding of prosecutorial misconduct; in many cases the misconduct was so severe that it required overturning a guilty verdict and releasing someone from prison. Three men wrongfully convicted of a 1996 murder were exonerated after 24 years behind bars. But that rectified only the most glaring injustice. To date, none of the prosecutors have faced any public consequences. Some are still working.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/04/opinion/prosecutor-misconduct-new-york-doj.html
In theory, the secrecy law exists to protect lawyers from being smeared by frivolous complaints, but that rationale makes no sense when applied to prosecutors, who are public officials doing the state’s work. In the Queens cases, their misconduct is already a matter of public record. Even if it weren’t, there is no principled reason to prevent the public airing of complaints — not to mention public hearings — against officials who have the power to send people to prison. Certainly the defendants they face off against in court don’t enjoy such privileges.
…& much as I don’t really read the stuff either of the pair involved in this discussion produce…the levels of irony imbued in the headline for this piece are genuinely impressive
…I mean, as far as that headline goes…they’re not wrong
When cybersleuths traced the millions of dollars American companies, hospitals and city governments have paid to online extortionists in ransom money, they made a telling discovery: At least some of it passed through one of the most prestigious business addresses in Moscow.
That this high-rise in Moscow’s financial district has emerged as an apparent hub of such money laundering has convinced many security experts that the Russian authorities tolerate ransomware operators. The targets are almost exclusively outside Russia, they point out, and in at least one case documented in a U.S. sanctions announcement, the suspect was assisting a Russian espionage agency.
The Treasury Department has estimated that Americans have paid $1.6 billion in ransoms since 2011. One Russian ransomware strain, Ryuk, made an estimated $162 million last year encrypting the computer systems of American hospitals during the pandemic and demanding fees to release the data, according to Chainalysis, a company tracking cryptocurrency transactions.
The hospital attacks cast a spotlight on the rapidly expanding criminal industry of ransomware, which is based primarily in Russia. Criminal syndicates have become more efficient, and brazen, in what has become a conveyor-belt-like process of hacking, encrypting and then negotiating for ransom in cryptocurrencies, which can be owned anonymously.
Ransomware is attractive to criminals, cybersecurity experts say, because the attacks take place mostly anonymously and online, minimizing the chances of getting caught. It has mushroomed into a sprawling, highly compartmentalized industry in Russia known to cybersecurity researchers as “ransomware as a service.”
The organizational structure mimics franchises, like McDonald’s or Hertz, that lower barriers to entry, allowing less sophisticated hackers to use established business practices to get into the business. Several high-level gangs develop software and promote fearsome-sounding brands, such as DarkSide or Maze, to intimidate businesses and other organizations that are targets. Other groups that are only loosely related hack into computer systems using the brand and franchised software.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/06/world/europe/ransomware-russia-bitcoin.html
…& sure, there’s plenty of stuff it might be more productive to get het up about today
In April, advocacy group Muslim Advocates filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court accusing Facebook executives — including CEO Mark Zuckerberg — of deceiving lawmakers and falsely claiming the company removes harmful content such as hate speech and anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Now, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine is throwing his support behind the civil rights group’s lawsuit by arguing against Facebook’s efforts to get it tossed, according to a legal brief shared exclusively with The Technology 202.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/12/06/hate-speech-lawsuit-against-facebook-gains-powerful-ally-dcs-attorney-general/
“Facebook is trying to claim that it — and other massive tech companies — are above the law and cannot be held accountable for their false statements to consumers,” Racine told The Technology 202. “But no company is entitled to mislead consumers, and there is nothing in local or federal law that shields companies like Facebook from the consequences of their own deception.”
With Russian troops massed along the border with Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin is expected to issue President Biden an ultimatum during their video meeting Tuesday: Guarantee that NATO will never expand into Ukraine, or Russia might soon launch an offensive against its neighbor.
Biden, however, said Friday that he “won’t accept anybody’s red line.”
Biden plans to make clear to Putin what costs the United States and its allies will impose on Russia if an invasion occurs, but also will offer a diplomatic pathway that could address Russian concerns about NATO activities, as well as U.S. and European concerns about Russian activities, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters.
The latest troop movements have caused greater alarm in the West. U.S. intelligence has concluded that the Kremlin could be planning a multifront offensive as soon as early next year involving up to 175,000 troops, according to U.S. officials and an intelligence document obtained by The Washington Post.
The United States doesn’t know whether Putin has issued an order or made a decision about a Ukraine offensive, the senior administration official said, but U.S. intelligence is tracking a buildup that is consistent with planning for such an operation.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/biden-putin-meeting-nato-ukraine/2021/12/06/story.html
…& I’m not about to say biden is the bad guy…but…I could stand to have the good guy be a better guy?
The Biden administration has approved more oil and gas drilling permits on public lands per month than the Trump administration did during the first three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, according to an analysis shared exclusively with The Climate 202.
The report by Public Citizen, a liberal advocacy group, illustrates that President Biden has been slow to reverse Trump’s fossil-fuel-friendly agenda, despite his campaign promise to push for “no more drilling on federal lands” because of climate change.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/12/06/biden-is-approving-more-oil-gas-drilling-permits-public-lands-than-trump-analysis-finds/
“From an environmentalist’s point of view, this doesn’t look great for Biden,” Alan Zibel, the lead author of the analysis and the research director of Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project, told The Climate 202.
Still, Zibel said the findings are “understandable” within a broader legal context, noting that the courts have constrained Biden’s ability to curtail oil and gas development on public lands.
…so…yeah…don’t know about you but I definitely need more coffee before I try to deal with the world this morning…& I’ll find some tunes to sit under here just as soon as I achieve caffeination…but for now I’ll leave it with this one
…&…I’ve had more coffee…but I’m not feeling like I have much more of my brain online to be honest…so I’m going with low hanging fruit for the tunes