…behind the times [DOT 21/9/21]

it's the money, isn't it...

…so…I guess it’s plus ça change for canada

With results still trickling in late Monday night, Trudeau was on track for another minority government, meaning he will once again need to work with other parties to pass legislation.
Preliminary results indicated his Liberals had won or were leading in 156 seats – short of the 170 needed for a parliamentary majority. Erin O’Toole’s opposition Conservatives had 121. The result largely mirrored the outcome of the 2019 election.
Despite the lack of a parliamentary majority, the prime minister is likely to find strong support in parliament for the Liberal party’s marquee policy – C$10 per day child care across the country.


…now, I don’t doubt that a tenner a day for childcare is a popular price

Hiring and retaining good workers has been tough in the child-care industry for years, but it is escalating into a crisis. Pandemic-fueled staffing challenges threaten to hold back the recovery, as the staffing problems at day cares have a ripple effect across the economy. Without enough employees, day cares are turning away children, leaving parents — especially mothers — unable to return to work.
“Child care is a textbook example of a broken market,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a mother herself. She pointed out that families spend, on average, 13 percent of their income on child care for young kids, yet day care workers earn so little they rank in the bottom 2 percent of all professions.


[…I know that’s not talking about the same place…but the part where that price point seems to be…let’s say not indicative of an increased wage for the folks providing the care…that seems like it might be worth a mention]

…although I’m assuming somewhere in there that’s going to require some sort of subsidy…& maybe spending upwards of a half a billion on throwing that election might not have been the best way to fill the coffers…I don’t know…the devil’s in the details, I guess…& there are more costly mistakes that can be made

An email sent by the MoD to interpreters who are seeking relocation to the UK asking for an update on their situation mistakenly copied in their email addresses, so they were visible to all other recipients.
The email came from the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap), which has been helping those still stuck in the country – as well as people who fled to neighbouring countries – after UK troops pulled out.
An MoD spokesperson said: “An investigation has been launched into a data breach of information from the Afghan Relocations Assistance Policy team. We apologise to everyone impacted by this breach and are working hard to ensure it does not happen again.

“The Ministry of Defence takes its information and data handling responsibilities very seriously.”

The spokesperson added that it would be inappropriate comment on the specifics of the case at this time but that the department is taking all necessary steps under UK GDPR.


…I wouldn’t want to be “inappropriate”…but it sure sounds like someone failed to grasp the difference between “cc” & “bcc”…which sounds innocuous right up until the part where contact details (in some cases including profile pictures) getting out is potentially life-threatening for those people…that’s…non-trivial

More than 41 million people living with dementia worldwide have not yet been diagnosed, according to a report by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).
However, research by McGill University in Montreal, Canada, shows that in some countries as many as 90% of people with dementia have not been diagnosed. The stark findings, revealed in a report published by ADI, suggest that more than 41 million cases globally remain undiagnosed.


…can’t imagine what brought that to mind…anyway…where was I?

Russia’s ruling United Russia party, which supports the president, Vladimir Putin, appears poised to maintain a constitutional majority in Russia’s state parliament, mysteriously outperforming its sluggish polling numbers in an election marred by accusations of vote rigging.

With more than 99% of the votes counted, United Russia held nearly 50% of the parliamentary vote, according to government results. But election officials said the party was also winning 198 of the 225 first-past-the-post districts, meaning it will continue to hold a two-thirds majority and can enact Kremlin policy including changes to the Russian constitution.
The European Union, Britain and the United States all condemned the vote. A UK Foreign Office spokesman said Russia had sought to “marginalise civil society, silence independent media and exclude genuine opposition candidates from participating” in “a serious step back for democratic freedoms in Russia.”
The performance of the ruling party was slightly weaker than in 2016, when United Russia won 54% of the vote. But the results mean that little will change in Russian politics, where Putin recently led an effort to change the constitution so that he can run for president twice more until 2036.
Videos from polling stations showed the usual efforts at ballot stuffing and attempts to drive off vote monitors keeping a close eye on the ballot urns. But the greater scandal came on Monday morning, as the results of nearly 2m online votes flipped many of the elections that appeared to be going against the Kremlin’s preferred candidates.


…so…that’s vlad in charge for another 15 years or so

At the heart of the Kremlin’s continued social and political control sits the Russian media. A sprawling network of television stations and newspapers, often lurid in style and spurious in content, the Kremlin’s propaganda system is a central pillar of Mr. Putin’s power. Against all the dissent and discontent with his regime, inside and outside the country, it acts as an impermeable shield. Combined with repression, it is how he wins.

Nearly all of Russia’s television stations and newspapers are under state control. Some, like REN TV, are owned by private companies with links to the Kremlin. Others, like Rossiya and Channel One, are state-owned and often deliver outright propaganda as the news.
[…]This machine doesn’t need coercion. An army of reporters, editors and producers, happy to toe any political line in return for promotion and payment, churns out an endless stream of fawning accounts of Mr. Putin, the prime minister and influential regional governors. Conformists and careerists, these journalists are not blind to the realities of contemporary Russia. But they choose to work on the side of the winners.

Funded to the tune of billions of dollars by those close to Mr. Putin, the media preys on the population’s worst fears. The threats of economic disaster and territorial disintegration, in a country that suffered both in the 1990s, are constantly invoked: Only loyalty to the Kremlin can keep the monsters at bay. The European Union, Britain and the United States are portrayed as sites of moral decay, rife with political instability and impoverishment.

In a country where 72 percent of the population doesn’t have a passport and where the financial means to travel abroad remain generally out of reach, such messages find a receptive audience.

Both broadcast and print are comprehensively under the Kremlin’s control. So too, nearly, is the internet. Ten years ago, social networks helped bring people to the streets in protest against rigged parliamentary elections. Since then, a set of technological and legislative measures — tapping users’ phones and computers, introducing criminal charges for content labeled “extremist” and curtailing the independence of Russia’s biggest tech company, Yandex — have turned the internet into heavily policed terrain. A social media post can cost a few years in prison.


…which I’m sure is going to work out great

…funny thing…if you happened to be listening to the BBC…which has been talking a fair bit about the problems that price hike is causing

BBC business correspondent Emma Simpson said one supermarket boss told her that unless the shortage is resolved the UK could start to see shortages of meat on shelves by the end of next week.
Greg Jackson, chief executive of Octopus Energy – one of the UK’s six largest providers – said this was “the most extreme energy market in decades”.

Small energy companies were “facing an unprecedented crisis”, he told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme.
He said: “The price cap means that the standard variable tariffs are actually way below the cost of supplying energy today.”

The energy cap is the maximum price suppliers can charge customers on a standard – or default – tariff.

Gas price rise: ‘UK not seeing risks to supplies right now’ [BBC]

…oddly enough there’s nary a mention of russia having anything to do with it…maybe they’ll get around to that in…oh…about 15 years

Russia responsible for Litvinenko killing – European court [BBC]
[…I mean, I get it…the court ruling only just happened…but to describe it as “breaking news” seems a bit of a stretch given the approach to the gas thing]

…anyway…speaking of things that can destabilize markets

The crisis engulfing Evergrande, China’s second-biggest property company, is the greatest test yet of President Xi Jinping’s effort to reform the debt-ridden behemoths of the Chinese economy. It could also be the most significant test that China’s financial system has faced in many years.

As angry protesters occupied the headquarters of the troubled property developer in recent weeks, some analysts have described the Evergrande crisis as “China’s Lehman Brothers moment”. Only this time it’s a credit-fuelled housebuilder that suddenly can’t pay its $300bn debts, rather than a blue-chip investment bank that many assumed was too big to fail but was instead thrown to the wolves 13 years ago.
Starting on Tuesday, when the firm founded by the former steel executive Xu Jiayin 24 years ago is widely expected to default on two key bank repayments, big banks and financial institutions face the prospect of a drastic haircut of more than 75% as the price of saving the little guys.

But the key question is: will that work? The company shocked the market this week by admitting that it cannot offload its assets quickly enough to stop the bleeding. Its share price is collapsing and trade in its bonds has been suspended. It could get messy, analysts say.
The potential timebomb has been ticking for some years. China’s housing market has become hugely bloated by years of cheap credit and is reckoned by conservative estimates to account for 16% of GDP, although some estimates put that figure at 25% – far more than the proportion in western economies.

But the low-hanging fruit of debt-fuelled growth has long gone. In 2007-08, about 6.5tn yuan ($1tn) of new credit was needed to raise GDP by about 5tn yuan a year, according to the IMF. In 2015-16, it took more than 20tn yuan in new credit for the same growth.
James Shi and Simon Lee of the Hong Kong data analytics firm Reorg said Beijing’s priority would be to keep Evergrande in business – even if its in a zombified form – in order to finish the estimated 1.4m homes the company has pre-sold.
They said bigger institutional creditors were a low priority and would most likely have to accept a government-orchestrated restructure of the company. Foreign holders of Evergrande’s dollar-denominated bonds – which total around $20bn – wouldn’t have much say in what happened and would therefore face a wipeout, analysts say. They would probably pursue their money in international courts.
Capital Economics agrees that even if a soft landing is engineered, the property sector that has driven China’s growth for 25 years is entering a period of decline that could have a profound effect on the world’s second-biggest economy.


…mind you…in china the state has regulatory options that aren’t exactly available in the west…so it’d take someone who knows a hell of a lot more about it than me to figure out how big of a problem that’s all going to cause

Other large Hong Kong property stocks such as New World Development and Henderson Land were also seeing double-figure drops in their prices on Monday amid widespread expectation that Evergrande, which has been crushed by a Beijing crackdown on highly leveraged developers, will default on some of its repayments this week.
“Any downturn in China would have significant implications for commodities demand given its status as the world’s largest consumer of many minerals and metals. The situation also has uncomfortable echoes of 2015 when fears about Chinese debt prompted a big and broad-based market correction, said the AJ Bell investment director, Russ Mould.


…although I’m thinking possibly there are some lessons they might not want to learn from those western markets?

The largest U.S. accounting firms have perfected a remarkably effective behind-the-scenes system to promote their interests in Washington. Their tax lawyers take senior jobs at the Treasury Department, where they write policies that are frequently favorable to their former corporate clients, often with the expectation that they will soon return to their old employers. The firms welcome them back with loftier titles and higher pay, according to public records reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with current and former government and industry officials.

From their government posts, many of the industry veterans approved loopholes long exploited by their former firms, gave tax breaks to former clients and rolled back efforts to rein in tax shelters — with enormous impact.

After lobbying by PwC, a former PwC partner in the Trump Treasury Department helped write regulations that allowed large multinational companies to avoid tens of billions of dollars in taxes; he then returned to PwC. A senior executive at another major accounting firm, RSM, took a top job at Treasury, where his office expanded a tax break in ways sought by RSM; he then returned to the firm.

Even some former industry veterans said they viewed the rapid back-and-forth arrangements as a big part of the reason that tax policy had become so skewed in favor of the wealthy, at the expense of just about everyone else. President Biden and congressional Democrats are now seeking to overhaul parts of the tax code that overwhelmingly benefit the richest Americans.
The so-called revolving door, in which people cycle between the public and private sectors, is nothing new. But the ability of the world’s largest accounting firms to embed their top lawyers inside the government’s most important tax-policy jobs has largely escaped public scrutiny.

In the last four presidential administrations, there were at least 35 instances of round trips from big accounting firms through Treasury’s tax policy office, along with the Internal Revenue Service and the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, and back to the same firm, according to public records and interviews with government and industry officials.

How Accounting Giants Craft Favorable Tax Rules From Inside Government [NYT]

…which I’m sure has nothing whatsoever to do with things like this

You might have thought Democrats would be eager to tax America’s 660 billionaires whose fortunes have increased by $1.8tn since the start of the pandemic, an amount that could fund half of Biden’s plan and still leave the billionaires as rich as they were before the pandemic began.
But senior House Democrats decided to raise revenue the traditional way, taxing annual income rather than giant wealth. They aim to raise the highest income tax rate and apply a 3% surtax to incomes over $5m.
You might also have assumed Democrats would target America’s biggest corporations, awash in cash but paying a pittance in taxes. Thirty-nine of the S&P 500 or Fortune 500 paid no federal income tax at all from 2018 to 2020 while reporting a combined $122bn in profits to their shareholders.

But remarkably, House Democrats have decided to set corporate tax rates below the level they were at when Barack Obama was in the White House. Democrats even kept scaled-back versions of infamous corporate loopholes such as private equity’s “carried interest”. And they retained special tax breaks for oil and gas companies.
It’s not the economics. Americans have been subject to decades of Republican “trickle-down” nonsense and know full well nothing trickles down. Billionaires hardly need to have their fortunes grow $100,000 a minute to be innovative. And as I’ve stressed, there’s more money at the top, relative to anywhere else, than at any time in the last century.

Besides, Democrats need the revenue to finance their ambitious plan to invest in childcare, education, paid family leave, healthcare and the climate.
Put simply, Democrats are reluctant to tax the record-breaking wealth of the rich and big corporations because of … the wealth of the rich and big corporations.
Republicans sold their souls to the moneyed interests long ago, but the timidity of House Democrats shows just how loudly big money speaks these days even in the party of Franklin D Roosevelt.
That’s because there’s far less of it on the other side. Through the first half of 2021, business groups and corporations spent nearly $1.5bn on lobbying, compared with roughly $22m spent by labor unions and $81m by public interest groups, according to OpenSecrets.org.


…& sure, that’s pretty much a big ol’ bag of nothing new…but…well…we kind of need to hurry up with a whole lot of something new?

The United Nations warned Friday that based on the most recent action plans submitted by 191 countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the planet is on track to warm by more than 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century — far above what world leaders have said is the acceptable upper limit of global warming.

Even a lower increase would mean millions of people losing their homes to rising seas, vast sections of permafrost lost and extinction for scores of animal species.
The U.N. report said that it had received 86 new plans — known as nationally determined contributions or NDCs — but that as of the end of July, nearly as many countries had still not stepped forward with new road maps. The plans submitted thus far would, if implemented, lead to a 12 percent reduction in their greenhouse gases by 2030 compared with 2010.

But the U.N. warned that if other nations — including China and India — did not submit new, more ambitious plans and continued on their current paths, greenhouse gas emissions would increase by 16 percent by the end of the decade. That would put the planet on a trajectory to warm by 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared with the end of the 1800s.

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of U.N. Climate Change, called the numbers “sobering.” In a news conference Friday marking the release of the report, she said, “It is not enough, what we have on the table.”

“The 16 percent increase is a huge cause of concern,” she said. “It is in sharp contrast with the calls by science for rapid, sustained and large-scale emission reductions to prevent the most severe climate consequences and suffering, especially of the most vulnerable, throughout the world.”


…& when there’s a lot of money at stake…we know how it goes when we take the ones making it at their word about how they’ll “do better”

This week the Wall Street Journal has run an eye-opening series of articles, based on internal studies and documents leaked by Facebook researchers, revealing just how duplicitous and/or naive Zuckerberg is about his own company and its influence on the world.

In one piece, the Journal revealed that Facebook maintains a private registry of very important people, including celebrities and politicians, who are exempt from the strict content-posting rules that govern the rest of us.

A second article was even more powerful in its indictment of Facebook and its leadership. The Journal showed that Facebook’s own researchers had documented the psychological dangers that Instagram, which Facebook owns, poses to teenagers, especially teen girls.
So Facebook’s leaders knew their service was harming people yet refused to publicly acknowledge it or do much about it. Clearly, the health of teenagers does not concern those who run that company. In March, Zuckerberg told a congressional hearing: “The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits.” He offered no such research. And he presumably knew that the truth was just the opposite.

In the latest revelation, the Journal reported that after Zuckerberg promised to promote legitimate information about Covid-19 and vaccinations, Facebook users who oppose vaccines or doubt the threat of Covid-19 did what Facebook users have been doing for years: they flooded the comments under otherwise factual posts with misleading, false, and destructive health misinformation. The result was cacophony at best, successful propaganda at worst. The swarm of anti-vaccine commenters, who are more highly motivated than most of us who trust medical science, undermined the pro-vaccination goal Zuckerberg had set.

The Facebook researchers who warned of this problem understood what the company’s top leadership seems to ignore or deny: the problem with Facebook is Facebook. Facebook is designed to prompt engagement and reward engagement. The comments are its currency.
Comments matter. Along with shares and likes, comments drive “engagement” with posts and profiles. Everything at Facebook is designed to maximize engagement – even more than revenue. If the company can get its 3 billion users to interact with content as long and as often as possible, then revenue will take care of itself. As the sociologist Jeremy Littau has argued, we need better empirical analysis of the effects of Facebook comments on the overall communicative influence of Facebook. We are only just beginning to grasp the power of comments on Facebook’s system of algorithmic amplification and on users.
For years, the myth that these companies were making the world “better” served as a kind of non-monetary wage for workers. They could sleep well and smile in the mirror by believing that their services and devices were improving the human condition.


It’s important to have this proof of Facebook’s duplicity. But these revelations come as a shock to no one who has been paying attention to the slippery machinations at the company over the years.

What’s most revealing is the persistence of the tired old, so-so-sorry, we’ll-do-better excuses that its executives trot out when the company is called out for its destructive products.
As The Times’s Kevin Roose noted on Twitter about Facebook’s reaction to the Journal pieces: “It’s just such a weird tactic. Like if Chipotle was getting criticized for having salmonella in its guac or whatever and the CEO’s response was like “well, scaled food production has had many benefits for humanity, including freeing us from being hunter-gatherers.”



While the “old expensive-speech system” may have seemed “undemocratic,” at least the media owners were disciplined by market forces (loss of their audience’s confidence could be costly), they valued their reputations, and because they had financial assets, they were disciplined by the risk of liability for, say, libel. The democratic and egalitarian Internet has, Volokh says, “the vices of those virtues.” The mainstream media had defects, but, says Volokh, they “didn’t offer much of a voice to people obsessed with private grievances, or to outright kooks, or to the overly credulous spreaders of conspiracy theories.”

Many people who spread hoaxes and “fake news” with a few clicks have no significant assets, financial or reputational, that are risked by issuing, say, defamatory falsehoods. The First Amendment generally protects reckless speech by the credulous or malicious from criminalization. And a controversial 1996 statute stipulates that Internet content and service providers do not have the legal status of publishers or speakers of material posted by others.

Hence, says Volokh, “for much online material, there is no potential institutional defendant who might be held accountable.” Thus there is no “incentive to police speech.”
Laws also can protect against invasions of privacy. North Dakota criminalizes intentionally or recklessly engaging in “harassing conduct by means of intrusive or unwanted … words” that annoy or alarm a person by affecting his or her privacy. Minnesota lets judges enjoin “repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted” words intended to adversely affect a person’s privacy. Volokh says “the era of ‘cheap speech’ has pushed courts and legislatures to criminalization — either through specific statutes or through the use of injunctions backed by the threat of criminal contempt — in order to deal with the danger posed by judgment-proof speakers,” of whom “there are millions.”

Newspapers, which cost money to publish and make money from advertisers and subscribers, are accountable in multiple ways. But because Internet users can speak cheaply and without persuading “any intermediary about the worth of their speech, judges are likely to see much more speech that seems pointless and ill-motivated.” Volokh is rightly uneasy about courts enforcing such judgments. Today, however, three non-government intermediaries — Facebook, Google, Twitter — mean that control “is more oligarchical than ever.”


…to swing back to that pesky climate thing

Joe Manchin, the powerful West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate energy panel and earned half a million dollars last year from coal production, is preparing to remake President Biden’s climate legislation in a way that tosses a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry — despite urgent calls from scientists that countries need to quickly pivot away from coal, gas and oil to avoid a climate catastrophe.
But Mr. Manchin is also closely associated with the fossil fuel industry. His beloved West Virginia is second in coal and seventh in natural gas production among the 50 states. In the current election cycle, Mr. Manchin has received more campaign donations from the oil, coal and gas industries than any other senator, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets, a research organization that tracks political spending.

He profits personally from polluting industries: He owns stock valued at between $1 million and $5 million in Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage firm which he founded in 1988. He gave control of the firm to his son, Joseph, after he was elected West Virginia secretary of state in 2000. Last year, Mr. Manchin made $491,949 in dividends from his Enersystems stock, according to his Senate financial disclosure report.
But the most powerful climate mechanism in the budget bill — and the one that Mr. Manchin intends to reshape — is a $150 billion program designed to replace most of the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear power over the next decade. Known as the Clean Electricity Performance Program, it would pay utilities to ratchet up the amount of power they produce from zero-emissions sources, and fine those that don’t.
The proposals now being weighed by Mr. Manchin “would keep fossil fuels as a major engine of the economy for longer than the climate can bear it,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences at Princeton University.


…& to keep harping on about those big tech folks

Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook and Microsoft poured about $65m into lobbying in 2020, but an average of only 6% of their lobbying activity between July 2020 and June 2021 was related to climate policy, according to an analysis from the thinktank InfluenceMap, which tracked companies’ self-reported lobbying on federal legislation.
Tech companies, which have some of the deepest pockets in corporate America, have been racing to come out with increasingly ambitious climate pledges. Amazon has a target to be net zero by 2040 and to power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, and Facebook has a target of net zero emissions for its entire supply chain by 2030.

In 2020, Microsoft pledged to become carbon negative by 2030 and by 2050 to have removed all the carbon the company has ever emitted. Apple has committed to become carbon neutral across its whole supply chain by 2030.

And Google has pledged to power its operations with 100% carbon-free energy by 2030, without using renewable certificates to offset any fossil-generated power. “The science is clear, we have until 2030 to chart a sustainable course for our planet or face the worst consequences of climate change,” the Google and Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai, said in a video announcing the policy.

Yet this strong pro-climate rhetoric is not being matched by action at a policy level, according to the report. “These gigantic companies that completely dominate the stock market are not really deploying that political capital at all,” said the InfluenceMap executive director, Dylan Tanner.
A lack of engagement is especially disappointing given the new momentum around climate action under the Biden administration, said Bill Weihl, a former Facebook and Google sustainability executive and now executive director of Climate Voice, which mobilizes tech workers to lobby their companies on climate action. “The dominant business voice on these issues is advocating against the kind of policies that we need,” he said.


…yeah…so…I don’t know if it’s the “talk is cheap” thing…or the “game is rigged” thing…but…well…there’s a pattern to too much of this stuff for comfort

Nearly 900 state legislators from 45 states asked the Supreme Court on Monday to uphold Roe v. Wade and reject Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, a direct attack on the landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The brief was filed Monday morning by the State Innovation Exchange, a progressive legislation advocacy group, in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Opening arguments before the high court are scheduled to begin this fall.

Of the amicus brief’s 897 signatory lawmakers, all were Democrats with the exception of two independents. Legislators from every state except Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Wyoming signed. The brief’s organizers believe it’s the largest-ever collection of state legislators to have signed a brief in a Supreme Court case related to abortion access.
The brief argued that the Supreme Court has a responsibility to uphold the legal precedents set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey — the two main decisions that legalized abortion in the United States — which they maintain provided pregnant people the constitutional right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy free from state interference.
“The justices will be answering one key question in this case: Are pre-viability bans unconstitutional? The answer is yes and decades of precedent have already established that,” said the State Innovation Exchange’s senior director of reproductive rights Jennifer Driver. “This brief demonstrates that nearly 1,000 state legislators are fighting back to say this court must maintain 50 years of precedent.”
In addition, 48 Democrats in the Senate and 188 in the House also filed a bicameral amicus brief Monday urging the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade.


The Supreme Court will hear a case concerning a Mississippi abortion law on December 1, the court announced on Monday, teeing up one of the most substantial cases of the term in which the justices are being asked to overturn Roe v. Wade.


In the Mississippi case, lawyers for Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only licensed abortion facility in the state, have asked the court to reject the state’s request to “jettison a half-century of settled precedent” and warned that if the law is upheld, the “fallout would be swift and certain”.
Under the Mississippi law, doctors could have medical licenses suspended or revoked if they perform abortions that do not comply with the law.


An Arkansas man sued a Texas abortion provider Monday in what is believed to be the first lawsuit filed since the state’s restrictive abortion law was enacted.

The man, Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer who was convicted of federal tax evasion in 2009, sued Dr. Alan Braid, a Texas physician who publicly admitted to performing an abortion that was illegal under the new law, known as S.B. 8.
Braid, who provides abortion care in San Antonio, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday that he violated the new law on the morning of Sept. 6.


…a convicted fraudster suing a principled physician for the sake a few grand…& that’s how that whole thing is meant to work…it’s a good thing I’m at the end of this along with my tether…because I don’t even know where to start



  1. Yes, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) is in session today! When the great nations on earth gather in a spirit of international comity to—

    I’ll stop typing here; I’m laughing too forcefully and too loudly and the Faithful Hound is trying to get a little shuteye in his mancave next to me under my wall-length elevated shelf-desk since I had him up and out at an unconscionably early hour.

    I was vaguely curious about where President Biden flew into last night. He famously (as VP) described LaGuardia as like being in a “third world country.” Despite the unfortunate wording anyone who’s traveled through LGA got the drift. All I know is that he was “met at the airport” (airport undisclosed) by our new Gov. Hochul and Mayor Whoever-He-Is and that wife who bilked the municipal treasury out of $1.25 billion. (See: ThriveNYC, but it’s been rebranded at least twice now, still to no discernible effect.)

    What is guaranteed is that gridlock on the East Side will continue all week, that happens every year. Last year UNGA was mostly virtual, but this year it looks like the gang’s all here, and Covid precautions will be assessed on a “case-by-case” basis. Meaning, there will be none, for the various worthies and their vast entourages.

    Well, as a citizen of the world and no stranger to foreign travel, let me be the first to welcome them. 

    • this year it looks like the gang’s all here, and Covid precautions will be assessed on a “case-by-case” basis. Meaning, there will be none, for the various worthies and their vast entourages.

      Maybe some — Bolsonaro had to eat outside when a pizza place refused to bend the rules:

        • I’m surprised he didn’t pull diplomatic immunity. No one attached to the UN has to follow traffic or parking rules, for example, and there have been cases of “domestic employees” held in virtual slavery but when those come to light the envoy is conveniently redeployed.

          Tit for tat, though. I remember reading that when London imposed congestion pricing the biggest scofflaws were people attached to the American embassy, and I think our bill is still notionally in the tens of thousand of pounds.

    • …don’t think you can really claim it falls under “artistic license”…but it could scrape by as “rhetorical device” perhaps

      …I’m guessing they left out the part between “might” & “have thought” where there was an implied “at first blush” or “all things being equal” or something along those lines…but, yeah…I don’t think you’re alone in that particular bit of skepticism?

      • Bill Barr’s hand picked prosecutor John Durham has been trying to build a case that Mueller was on a witch hunt, and Durham has been searching for clues for longer than Mueller was on the case.
        Durham has failed, with his second indictment being called by some former prosecutors the flimsiest they’ve ever seen. Durham is a DOJ pro and seems to have sacrificed his reputation chasing this while even Barr has moved on to other crusades.

        • …speaking of the durham thing…I failed to find a place to wedge this one into today’s litany…but the comparison is a fairly illustrative one?


          …short version

          Two individuals allegedly made false statements to federal investigators. One now faces trial on a felony charge. The other does not. I defy you to read about their cases and conclude that justice is served in either instance, or that it is being applied even-handedly.

          …one individual being the SAC of the FBI’s indianapolis office who was apparently busy talking to the head of USA gymnastics about maybe getting the gig as head of the US olympic committee’s security…& not (as he claimed) passing on to his colleagues elsewhere in the FBI the substantive allegations about one larry nassar

          …the other would be the recipient of the second indictment you refer to on account of the part where he once represented hilary’s campaign &/or the DNC before the time he “sought a meeting with FBI general counsel James Baker to pass on information about digital connections between a computer linked to the Trump Organization and a Russian bank with ties to the Kremlin”

          …justice may be blind & all…but she needs better guide dogs

  2. Anyway, before I got distracted, I meant to mention that if you are in town for UNGA or any other reason be sure to check out this:


    I vividly remember their groundbreaking installation “The Information Superhighway Is the Road to GeoCities.” 1997 I think it was.

    BTW, whatever happened to Vine? Wasn’t Vine TikTok’s spiritual predecessor? Why did Vine figuratively die on the vine while TikTok seems to thrive, at least as of this writing, September 21, 2021.

  3. To follow up on the Petito story:
    Brian Laundrie search shifts, warrant served on parents’ home day after Gabby Petito’s body likely found
    Paywall, as per usual, so some quotes:
    “[P]olice in North Port, Florida announced they do not intend to continue an extensive search of the wilderness where person of interest Brian Laundrie may be.”
    Uh, no, he’s not there, reporter guy. And the cops know it. 
    “Officers served a search warrant, and local media reported that the parents were seen getting into a police van.” 
    Yeah, ’cause helping a fugitive is a crime. 

    [Joseph] Petito said he wants Laundrie to be held accountable for whatever part he played in Gabby’s disappearance, along with his family for protecting him.

    “I hope they get what’s coming, and that includes his folks,” Petito said. “Because I’ll tell you, right now, they are just as complicit, in my book.”

    Yep, pretty sure “complicit” is the word we need. 
    This kid must be a real piece of work. He’s letting his parents take the fall while he runs. For crying out loud, why didn’t you just run after you killed the girl, Brian? 

    • @bryanlsplinter I love my daughter more than life itself. And yet I can’t imagine protecting her after she committed a terrible crime. I would have encouraged her to turn herself in, promising to stand by her and continuing to love her while she stood trial and received her punishment. I said the same thing to her this morning. Her response was she wouldn’t want people in her life that would let her get away with murder. 
      The daughter of a childhood friend was brutally murdered a few years ago by a man who she didn’t want a relationship with. Before her body was found her killer’s father told a couple of the guy’s coworkers that he had killed the young woman but asked them not to call the police, until he had a chance to find him. Giving him time to get closer to the Mexican border he was fleeing to. Fortunately the coworkers immediately called law enforcement and he was captured. 
      There are more of these shitty, loving parents than I would have thought. It’s frightening to think how many may have helped their horrible offspring not get caught. 

      • That makes sense. Cleaning the van for starters. The article strongly implies that the parents planted Brian’s car at the wilderness reserve to trick police into searching there. These people must be nuts — this is WAY beyond looking the other way while he bolts out the back door. I’m guessing they did NOT consult with their family attorney before doing this. If the attorney is involve he’s going to get disbarred at a minimum.

  4. The European Union, Britain and the United States are portrayed as sites of moral decay, rife with political instability and impoverishment.
    welp….its a bit rich coming from russia…..but not exactly wrong

  5. On Facebook, this is an interesting thread on a pending lawsuit.

    Basically, the retirement system if Rhide Island and some other parties won an initial effort to examine FB board of directors docs in a financial suit. They recently amended their erlier suit to claim a LOT more problems, including Zuck lying to Congress.
    How big, I don’t know…. but likely to spawn more discovery, who knows, more suits. Zuck really doesn’t want any more light shown in gis business, but it sounds like he’s been struggling even more to cover up his privacy mess.

    • …I imagine it’s going to take as long a time as a man with all the lawyers money can buy can force it to…but personally speaking I’m fairly confident that zuckerberg is (beyond any reasonable doubt) both responsible for & by rights liable for things he knew in advance to be in contravention of laws in a number of jurisdictions…so I really do hope that someday those chickens come home to roost…& he winds up buried in that shit

      …won’t undo a lot of the damage he’s done making himself all that money…but it would be a good start

      …much like that thread…& the suit(s) it’s talking about?

  6. There is a book i recommend if you want to be scared relatively shitless about the future. 
    2034: A Novel of the Next World War; Elliot Ackerman & Admiral James Stavridis
    Last Dec, Wired mag dedicated an entire issue to an excerpt from the book. Synopsis: The US responds to a ship in distress in the South China Sea. This was a decoy in order for China to launch a cyber weapon. WWIII starts, China and Iran are allies. 
    For a luddite like me, the part published in Wired was pretty terrifying. I don’t even like war/military stories but I added the book to my wishlist.

  7. You don’t even have to be a teen girl to be negatively affected by social media. I’m 38 and I’ve noticed a definite increase in my stress level w/r/t Instagram. I still get a lot of enjoyment posting my cat pics or manicures (even though they have it so tweaked that hardly anyone sees them), and I talk to a few regular people that I think I would be friends with if I knew them irl. But when I started following more accounts that didn’t have anything to do with cats or nails (politics, gay/womens rights, etc) or when I would wade into “recommend posts” shit got trolly. I’ve been called names and insulted, even after agreeing with people. You can’t use sarcasm or hyperbole because there’s no reading comprehension and everything is srs bsns. It doesn’t matter how innocuous your comment, someone will come for your wig. Something about the internet just makes people want to fight. 

    • …that last part is why I spent most of the existence of the internet as a confirmed lurker…I freely admit that the folks hereabouts (& for a while there a slightly larger number in various kinja-type places) do a lot to help me feel like I might not have lost all my marbles just yet…but damn if it doesn’t feel like the exception that proves the rule when I go poking around elsewhere online?

    • Okay, star for “come for your wig.” That’s going into my lexicon. And people on the Internet are always looking to fight about something. Gives their drab lives meaning, I guess.
      I backed off Facebook in the Trump years. It was just a cesspool of right-wing stupidity. I would check it maybe once a week. My stress level went WAY down when I did. I still limit my exposure to it, but it seems marginally less fascist than it did back then. 

  8. I’ve just glad I pretty much checked out after Myspace: You can only go so many times using a combination of mood and that “extended network” to make proto-tweets in the third person trying to entertain the person you think is stalking you. . . .

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