…it’s a sunday, damn it…& I don’t want to be all, “hi folks – I’m here to ruin your day”
Millions of people in the US are drinking water that fails to meet federal health standards, including by violating limits for dangerous contaminants.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/26/worst-us-water-systems-latinos-most-exposed
In addition to lacking tracking and enforcement, water standards aren’t strong enough to begin with, according to former EPA officials. The US government requires monitoring for 94 contaminants, not including known health hazards like PFAS, the “forever chemicals” that have been implicated in cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and thyroid disease. PFAS include nonstick substances used in cookware and firefighting foam and are being discovered in water supplies around the country.
Compare and contrast. AstraZeneca is currently producing Covid vaccines for no profit and still manages to get beaten up by opportunists in Brussels. Over in the US, Moderna is hailed as a national saviour while shouting from the rooftops about how its commercial prospects have been transformed by its own Covid vaccine.
Moderna’s full-year statement on Thursday was extraordinary. The company expects to generate revenues of $18.4bn this year from deals it has signed to supply its vaccine, which is priced at $30–$36 a shot, so is definitely intended to produce a chunky profit margin. That revenue forecast is enormous. For comparison, AstraZeneca’s entire established portfolio – for cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory treatments and more – generated sales of $26.6bn last year.https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2021/feb/25/astrazeneca-moderna-covid
…if there’s gonna be news
…then days are gonna get ruined
…unconstitutional, you say?
It’s a given that criminal defendants in the United States are entitled to legal representation, free of charge if they cannot afford it — a right enshrined by the Supreme Court nearly six decades ago and then expanded to cover even minor cases in which incarceration is unlikely. Yet in courts across the country, poverty-stricken litigants in noncriminal cases routinely face life-shattering outcomes, including jail time, without ever seeing a lawyer or receiving basic legal advice.
Those cases include disputes in which the stakes could not be higher: forfeiture of parental rights; eviction or foreclosure; danger from abusive spouses and domestic partners; and, in guardianship cases, the loss of control over property, and even liberty. In child-support cases, defendants are routinely incarcerated, for days, weeks or months without recourse to legal assistance.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/26/noncriminal-cases-right-to-lawyer-representation/
…because ’tis the season of the damned
In alarming testimony to a House subcommittee, Yogananda Pittman said that threats were circulating that directly targeted the president’s first formal speech to a joint session of Congress. A date for the event has not yet been announced.
“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible,” Pittman said.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/26/capitol-attack-capitol-biden-police
“Based on that information, we think that it’s prudent that Capitol police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture until we address those vulnerabilities going forward,” she said.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are tracking closely far-right online chatter for early warnings on any possible repeat attacks in Washington or other cities. In addition to Biden’s upcoming congressional address, law enforcement will also be on alert on the days leading up to 4 March – the date set by the extreme conspiracy theory QAnon for Trump to return to Washington to start a second term as president.
…& CPAC is a thing
The Conservative Political Action Conference has evolved from a family reunion of Republican libertarians, social conservatives and a hawkish foreign policy establishment into Trump-chella.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/27/us/politics/cpac-trump-republicans.html
A new website for the ex-president’s Save America committee lets him resume collecting money from his millions of small-dollar donors — money he can use largely however he wants.
Trump created “Save America” days after losing last November’s election to Democrat Joe Biden, and collected some $76 million for it over two months before the Republican National Committee stopped raising money with him the day of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol that Trump incited.
The group previously did not have a public presence, relying instead on the RNC’s fundraising operation, with 75% of each small-dollar donation raised going to Trump and 25% going to the party. Because leadership PACs are so loosely regulated, Trump can use that money for pretty much any purpose, including picking up his personal expenses or even paying him an eight-figure salary.Trump Restarts Fundraising Ahead Of His CPAC Visit [HuffPost]
…although apparently that isn’t bad enough so there’s also not-CPAC where the white nationalist who are “a bit much” hang out
Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, spoke Friday night at a far-right extremist rally organized by white nationalist figurehead Nick Fuentes while his colleagues in the House passed a massive coronavirus relief package.GOP Congressman Skips COVID-19 Relief Vote To Speak At White Nationalist Rally [HuffPost]
Fuentes, the main AFPAC organizer, attended both the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the U.S. Capitol riot of this year, although he claims he did not storm the building.
…but I’ll get back to that in a bit
The policy debate over raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is the latest fault line between Democrats, who largely support the idea, and Republicans, who generally oppose such a sharp increase as bad for business.Republicans Grapple With Raising the Minimum Wage [NYT]
…but of course that’s not getting past the senate
Senior Democratic lawmakers trying to find a backup plan to a minimum-wage increase are exploring new tax penalties on firms with more than $2.5 billion in gross receipts that do not pay at least $15 an hour, according to two people familiar with the matter.https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/02/27/minimum-wage-democrats-biden/
…maybe let’s go with something from the thin end of the wedge
Arizona lawmakers are debating a new set of voting bills — including one that would allow lawmakers to review election results “if needed” and would grant the legislature the power to pick the state’s presidential electors — as Republican lawmakers around the country work to change election laws in the wake of the 2020 election.https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/24/politics/arizona-voting-bills/index.html
…even when that crime is outright vandalism of an essential public service
As the service crisis at the U.S. Postal Service drags into its eighth month, complaints are reaching a fever pitch. Consumers are inundating members of Congress with stories of late bills — and the late fees they’ve absorbed as a result. Small-business owners are waiting weeks, even months, for checks to arrive, creating cash-flow crunches and debates on whether to switch to costlier private shippers. Large-scale mailers, such as banks and utilities, are urging clients to switch to paperless communication, a shift that would further undercut the agency’s biggest revenue stream.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/02/26/usps-delays-bills-medications
…& speaking of endangered revenue streams
…so instead of “boy, I love sundays” I feel like my catchphrase of the day is fixing to be “well, ain’t that some bullshit?”
…although in this case it’s that pass that’s bullshit
…on account of the guilt part seems to be pretty solid
https://www.washingtonpost.com/context/intelligence-report-jamal-khashoggi-saudi-arabia/ [pdf – doesn’t seem like it has a paywall]
Seven Saudis involved in the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi belonged to an elite unit charged with protecting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a declassified report on the assassination released on Friday. The New York Times has linked the group to a brutal campaign to crush dissent inside the kingdom and abroad, citing interviews with American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign.Crushing Dissent: The Saudi Kill Team Behind Khashoggi’s Death [NYT]
…& it’s not always a given that these things are that clear
The death of the officer, Brian Sicknick, after the Capitol riot has been a major focus for investigators scrutinizing the attack by a pro-Trump mob.F.B.I. Said to Have Singled Out Potential Assailant in Capitol Officer’s Death [NYT]
Investigators have uncovered video appearing to show someone spraying a chemical irritant at Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick and other law enforcement personnel fending off rioters in last month’s attack, though they have yet to identify the person or tie the activity directly to Sicknick’s death, according to people familiar with the matter.https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/brian-sicknick-capitol-police-video/2021/02/26/story.html
…or at least aren’t supposed to be
ICE’s use of [this] private database is another example of how government agencies have exploited commercial sources to access information they are not authorized to compile on their own. It also highlights how real-world surveillance efforts are being fueled by information people may never have expected would land in the hands of law enforcement.
The database, CLEAR, includes more than 400 million names, addresses and service records from more than 80 utility companies covering all the staples of modern life, including water, gas and electricity, and phone, Internet and cable TV.
CLEAR documents say the database includes billions of records related to people’s employment, housing, credit reports, criminal histories and vehicle registrations from utility companies in all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is updated daily, meaning even a recent move or new utility sign-up could be reflected in an individual search.https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/26/ice-private-utility-data/
…even when they are
“What are we fighting for? It’s the same thing our Founding Fathers fought for,” he said at another point. “We’re fighting for the rule of the people. We’re fighting to be able to have our own say. We’re fighting to be able to run our own government. We’re fighting to have real self-government in America. And that’s what we’re about.”
This is precisely the rhetoric that was used among the rioters on Jan. 6. They saw themselves as fighting a second American revolution, enforcing democracy after it had been stolen by fraud that they knew happened because their president and his allies told them it had.
Hawley’s objection that day was predicated on savvy legal footnoting that would still allow him to go on shows like NBC’s “Meet the Press” and claim to be simply giving judicious consideration to the all-important rules. But what Hawley did Jan. 6 he did so that he could give speeches like the one Friday, written through with the same rhetoric Trump used to build the same loyalty and fervency among Trump’s supporters.
Hawley used his effort to undercut democracy to proclaim how he would defend the democratic voice of those who agree with him. It doesn’t get much more cynical.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/26/josh-hawley-who-tried-derail-bidens-presidency-now-champions-rule-people/
…oh, they can always get more tawdry
Few people have embraced the phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” more fervently than former president Donald Trump. He’s done so for decades, first leveraging tabloid gossip columns, then NBC’s munificence and then the entire Republican Party to ensure that Americans were directing their attention to him. And, to an increasing degree, it worked.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/26/former-president-yes-that-one-still-gobbles-up-lot-attention
And yet! Even with Trump out of frame, he still manages to attract more attention than past presidents — and, by some metrics, the current one.
Trump’s dominance of the GOP will be reinforced Sunday, when he addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, his first major political speech since leaving the White House. In a pageant scripted to emphasize his importance, he will be one of the last to speak in the three-day gathering, taking the stage right after the announcement of a presidential straw poll that he is widely expected to win.‘It’s Donald Trump’s party’: How the former president is building a political operation to cement his hold on the GOP [WaPo]
Even after the GOP lost the House, Senate and White House under his watch — and Trump was impeached twice, most recently for his role in inciting a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — his sharpest critics concede that he remains in control of the party and his allies are ascendant.
…& lest we attempt to take comfort in the idea that his comeuppance is oh-so-slowly catching up to his slimey ass
Trump technically lost the court battle not to have to produce his tax materials, but he may have won the longer-term war — to slow the progress of the criminal investigations, perhaps to a point where prosecutors can no longer bring certain cases that have passed their statutes of limitations. Recently, the New York Legislature passed a new law that pauses the statute of limitations for the period of time when a president is in office; Congress has started a similar effort, but it needs to move faster.https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/trump-s-tax-documents-are-with-new-york-prosecutors-but-the-clock-is-ticking
…the justice system, ladies & gentlemen
…it’s bound to make assholes mend their ways, right?
“With a desire among politicians on both sides of the aisle to think more seriously about regulating social media companies, it is clear that changes are in the cards for Facebook,” said Josh Pasek, an associate professor of communications and political science at the University of Michigan.https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/feb/27/facebook-australia-news-ban-us-legislation
When it comes to legislation addressing the unchecked power of big tech, the question is not if but when it will come, said Bruce Wolpe, a fellow at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre. Facebook’s forceful approach in Australia would only raise the pressure for action, he said.
“It is likely Facebook will try to get ahead of this kind of legislation so it is not caught off guard,” Pasek said. “This is going to get messier as time goes on.”
…how’s that looking?
Bosworth replied: “Face recognition … might be the thorniest issue, where the benefits are so clear, and the risks are so clear, and we don’t know where to balance those things.”
Excuse me? What kind of benefits could possibly balance the risk of making life extremely easy for stalkers and creeps? Well, Bosworth later said on Twitter, it could help people with prosopagnosia, a neurological condition where you can’t recognize people’s faces. More generally, Bosworth said, it would be super handy when you run into someone at a party and can’t remember their name. Ah yes, I can totally see how avoiding a little social awkwardness balances out the whole stalker thing!
No need to worry too much about privacy, though. We all know you can trust Facebook to do the right thing and keep your data nice and safe. When a (female) Wired editor raised the concern that you could no longer pacify creeps at parties by giving them a fake name and number, for example, Bosworth breezily replied that there’d be a technological fix for that. The exchange makes it almost hilariously clear that Bosworth had given very little thought to the implications of this kind of tech on women’s everyday lives. Which is to be expected, considering Facebook started life as a website that let people rank hot girls via photos obtained without their consent.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/feb/27/facebook-facial-recognition-glasses-would-endanger-women
…I’d say facebook was “the worst”…except…here’s the thing…& I know it seems like I’ve been going on about CPAC a lot already when it would be a lot nicer to just ignore it & pretend shit like that didn’t exist…but here’s why that’s not necessarily such a great idea…because you know what happens when they think we’re not looking?
…& when they say “looks like”…here’s what they mean
…whose house is it anyway?
…so…at least it’s not monday?