[…for the record at least some of the technical difficulties seem to be on my end today…since the thing I’ve been fighting with to get this put together is running slowly enough that even I can type faster than the letters deign to show up…so if it seems particularly grumpy there’s a fair chance that had something to do with it]
…I don’t know as it counts as new…but we appear to once again be getting to the point where things we kind of already knew are the order of the day
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, has been found guilty on four of 11 charges of fraud, concluding a high profile trial that captivated Silicon Valley and chronicled the missteps of the now-defunct blood testing startup.
Holmes was found guilty on four charges: one count of conspiracy to defraud investors, and three counts of wire fraud against investors.
Holmes was meanwhile acquitted on three charges, including one conspiracy to defraud patients and two charges related to patients who received inaccurate test results. One charge was thrown out earlier in the trial, and the jury did not come to a verdict on the remaining three charges.
The verdict seals Holmes’ extraordinary rise and fall and could have wide-ranging consequences for the tech industry. It also marked an indictment of the hype machine that helped rocket Holmes to fame, as she graced the covers of major magazines, headlined conferences, and drew comparisons to Apple’s Steve Jobs.https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jan/03/elizabeth-holmes-trial-jury-finds-theranos-founder-guilty-on-four-counts
…anyone feel like betting that we’re going to see some changes that might make that sort of thing harder to get away with?
In Congress, lawmakers face an increasingly tight window ahead of the 2022 midterms to pass sweeping legislation aimed at curbing alleged antitrust abuses by the tech giants, addressing social media harms and giving federal enforcers more tools to police the sector.
At key agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, newly appointed Democratic leaders are poised to bring oversight of tech companies to new heights — but their plans could be stymied by delays to crucial nominees and other looming hurdles.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/03/why-2022-could-be-watershed-year-tech-regulation/
A bipartisan group of lawmakers for months has been trying to build momentum for legislation to crack down on alleged anticompetitive behavior by tech behemoths like Facebook and Apple. Some of their proposals, if passed, would mark the most significant legislative restrictions ever placed on the tech giants at the federal level in the United States.
Lawmakers’ efforts could be tabled indefinitely if Democrats don’t retain control of Congress in this year’s midterms due to significant Republican opposition to the bills. Proponents of the push say that makes 2022 crucial for getting the proposals over the finish line.
Under the leadership of aggressive new Democratic enforcers, the FTC is set to consider expanding its power to crack down on privacy abuses and algorithmic discrimination by tech companies through an internal process known as rulemaking.
The agency’s agenda is also likely to be delayed, at least initially. Democrats failed to secure majorities at either the FTC or the Federal Communications Commission before the new year due to delays in the Senate for key nominees, which could hold up both agencies’ priorities. The agency is also still waiting to see if it will receive a major funding boost for privacy enforcement via President Biden’s social spending bill, which is currently in limbo.
…or do we think we’ll stick to staying comfortably behind the curve in that too-little-too-late “sweet spot”?
…for auld lang syne
Several dozen of those charged with storming the U.S. Capitol explicitly prepared for violence in the effort to thwart Congress’s confirmation of Joe Biden’s election that day, according to court records. Some arrived in combat gear, wearing the logos of self-styled militias or violent right-wing clubs. More than 30 of those charged in the Capitol attack face felony conspiracy charges, according to an analysis of court records by The Washington Post.https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/11/09/rioters-charges-arrests-jan-6-insurrection/
A law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said that while many in the FBI underestimated the desperation, anger and conspiratorial nature of the crowd, the evidence gathered to date shows the vast majority of participants “didn’t have a plan” to overthrow the government: “They didn’t know what they were doing. A lot of them didn’t even know where they were going. But they had a message, and the message was, the pitchfork people will show up again, and you need to be afraid of us.”
Still, supporters of the Jan. 6 defendants have escalated claims that they are being punished for their political beliefs. Pence said recently that the media’s reporting on the mob that chanted calls for his death is a tool to “demean” Trump supporters.
Democrats generally fall into two categories when it comes to their level of anger about the attack: those who still have trauma about the events and fear that something similar might happen again, and those who simply cannot believe that the Trump-inspired attack has not dampened his support among Republicans.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/03/january-6-congress/
Democrats have grown most concerned about a group of fairly new Republicans who focus on being provocateurs and promoting Trump rather than any legislative agenda. Several of them, including Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), have highlighted weapons in social media posts and made public statements that Democrats said have made them fearful.
…it feels like stating the obvious…because…well…it is…but the fact of the matter is that anyone with a halfway functional set of faculties knows damn well that the unpresidented ex-incumbent ought to be not only incarcerated but as legally disqualified from office as he has always been morally disqualified…& that the only reason he isn’t is entirely because the GOP found it politically expedient to “exonerate” him by failing to vote to indict him on either of the occasions his impeachment gave them the opportunity…so here we are
The percentage of Americans who say violent action against the government is justified at times stands at 34 percent, which is considerably higher than in past polls by The Post or other major news organizations dating back more than two decades. Again, the view is partisan: The new survey finds 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 23 percent of Democrats saying violence is sometimes justified.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/01/post-poll-january-6/
Overall, 60 percent of Americans say Trump bears either a “great deal” or a “good amount” of responsibility for the insurrection, but 72 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Trump voters say he bears “just some” responsibility or “none at all.”
About 7 in 10 Americans say Biden’s election as president was legitimate, but that leaves almost 3 in 10 who say it was not, including 58 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of independents. The 58 percent of Republicans who say Biden was not legitimately elected as president is down somewhat from 70 percent in a Post-ABC poll conducted in January shortly after the Capitol attack.
Overall, the new survey reflects how much the partisan wars continue to rage across the country a full year after the Jan. 6 riot. Trump has fueled the discord with falsehoods about election irregularities, and most Republican elected officials have turned their backs on any serious investigation of the roots of the attack and exactly what transpired that day. Hopes for unity have largely faded as doubts about democracy have grown.
Among Democrats, 67 percent are not confident that officials in Republican-controlled states will accept a losing result, while 32 percent are confident. Among independents, 71 percent are confident that officials in Democratic-led states will accept a losing result, compared with 51 percent who say the same about Republican-controlled states.
…& who knows…maybe tomorrow will seem like it brings something new to the table
Attorney General Merrick Garland will give a speech Wednesday about the Justice Department’s efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, stressing the department’s “unwavering commitment to defend Americans and American democracy from violence and threats of violence,” a Justice Department official said.
In the address, scheduled for the day before the anniversary of the attack, Garland will not speak about specific people or charges, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the speech had not yet been officially announced.https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/garland-capitol-riot-speech/2022/01/03/story.html
…although I guess we’re still shambling towards something resembling progress
New York Attorney General Letitia James has subpoenaed testimony from Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., two adult children of former president Donald Trump who have served as executives at his company, as part of James’s civil investigation into the Trump Organization and its business practices.https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/don-jr-ivanka-trump-subpoena/2022/01/03/story.html
Later in the day, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. filed a motion to quash the subpoenas — or to delay them until a parallel criminal probe is completed.
James responded by issuing a statement vowing to compel the trio to testify. “For more than two years, members of the Trump family and the Trump Organization have continually sought to delay and impede our investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization,” the statement said. “These delay tactics will not stop us from following the facts or the law.”
James’s office launched its civil investigation into the Trump Organization and its officers in March 2019, focusing on whether financial fraud was committed through property valuation practices. Investigators from the office are still requesting records and other evidence.
The former president two weeks ago filed a federal lawsuit against James in Upstate New York, alleging that her inquiry amounted to harassment and violated his constitutional rights. That suit could further delay the progress of the attorney general’s investigation.
…if not necessarily in the direction we’d like
One in three Americans believe violence against the government is sometimes justified, according to a new Washington Post poll.
According to the authors of The Steal, a new book on Republican attempts to fulfill Trump’s aim through legal action in key states, the rioters of 6 January 2021 “had no more chance of overthrowing the US government than hippies in 1967 had trying to levitate the Pentagon”.
But it was still by far the most serious attack on the seat of federal government since the British burned Washington in 1814 and the Post poll comes amid a sea of warnings of growing domestic strife, even of a second civil war.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/02/one-three-americans-violence-government-justified-poll
…it sure would be nice to feel like timely action might prevent the twin tactics of running out the clock & subverting results based on partisan interpretations of procedural technicalities from continuing to be successful in all the wrong ways
“Make no mistake about it,” Mr. Schumer wrote, “this week Senate Democrats will make clear that what happened on Jan. 6 and the one-sided, partisan actions being taken by Republican-led state legislatures across the country are directly linked, and we can and must take strong action to stop this antidemocratic march.”
After withholding his views on prospective changes in Senate rules for much of last year, Mr. Schumer has made it clear that he will pursue an overhaul if Republicans continue to filibuster two voting rights measures that he has sought to bring to the Senate floor.
One, the Freedom to Vote Act, would set new minimum standards for early and mail-in voting, among other provisions. The second, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, seeks to restore major elements of the landmark Voting Rights Act weakened by Supreme Court rulings.
“They want to nationalize elections,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, said in a recent interview. “They are so intent on getting their way that they will break the rules to get there.”
…nationalize elections…like…you know…national elections…hmmm…I feel like there’s a clue there…if only I could articulate the connection…good thing mitch is still around to clear things up, right?
Trying to make his case for a rules change, Mr. Schumer said the Senate’s traditional reverence for the rights of the minority party have “been warped and contorted to obstruct and embarrass the will of majority — something our founders explicitly opposed.”
As a result, he said, the “weaponization of rules once meant to short-circuit obstruction have been hijacked to guarantee obstruction.”https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/03/us/politics/senate-democrats-biden-agenda.html
…he definitely wouldn’t be trying to distract from anything
When Americans go to the polls in the 2022 midterms, the most important elections won’t be for office in Washington. The most high-stakes races will be statewide contests, in some cases for long overlooked offices, that have profound consequences for the future of free and fair elections in America.
The races for governor and secretary of state, the chief election official in many places, will determine which officials have control over setting election rules and the post-election certification process.
Allies of Donald Trump and others who have spread baseless conspiracy theories about the election have launched campaigns for several of those offices, both at the statewide and local level, in an effort to take control of election machinery. Trump is expected to run for president in 2024, and if his allies are successful, there are fears they could use their positions to block Trump’s opponent from taking office should Trump lose.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/02/trump-acolytes-crucial-election-oversight-posts-2022-midterms
…wouldn’t it be nice not to feel like playing catch up wasn’t the only game in town?
Domestic extremist groups ranging from the QAnon conspiracy movement and the Proud Boys to militia organizations and avowed white nationalists have re-emerged in recent months, frequently trying to effect change at the local level.
But it’s not just the strategy that has shifted. Most far-right domestic extremist movements have also adapted their infrastructure and messaging, according to a forthcoming report by the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, a nonprofit international affairs think tank.
That analysis, which tracked violent domestic extremism and political violence since Jan. 6 via news reports and known extremist networks, found that despite an initial decline, domestic extremist groups have evolved and resurfaced, encouraging local action while recruiting and spreading their messages through culture-war debates including vaccines, race and education.https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/internet/extremism-us-jan-6-capitol
…although to be fair…”burn it all down” is not a tactic I’d endorse
South African firefighters are struggling to extinguish another fire at the complex housing the country’s parliament in Cape Town, a day after a blaze swept through the buildings.
Police have charged a 49-year-old man with arson and other offences including theft. He is expected to appear in court on Tuesday. The speaker of the national assembly said arson, if confirmed, would represent an attack on South Africa’s democracy.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/03/south-africa-man-charged-with-arson-over-blaze-at-parliament
…on the other hand…when laurence tribe is saying this kind of stuff
But for those of us who have continued to investigate the sources and facets of the assault on constitutional democracy, a sobering realization has become unavoidable: our country, and the legal and political institutions that prevent it from descending into despotism, are in even greater peril today than they were at the time of last November’s election.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jan/03/risk-us-coup-next-us-election-greater-than-under-trump
[…that’s not a short piece…or particularly comforting…but well worth a read from where I sit]
…& it turns out that demonstrable innocence might not be enough to get the supreme court not to send a wrongly convicted man back to death row…not that that part is exactly new either…but perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise when the reverse also seems to hold…in that actual guilt is not legally-speaking a barrier to avoiding being prosecuted
The unsealed settlement states that upon receipt of the stipulated sum, Giuffre, referred to under her maiden name, agrees to “remise, release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge the said second parties and any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant … from all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts, including state or federal, cause and causes of action”.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/03/jeffrey-epstein-prince-andrew-virginia-giuffre
In a court filing on 29 October, Andrew’s attorneys said: “Giuffre settled her sex-trafficking and sexual-abuse claims against Epstein in 2009. In doing so, she provided Epstein with a general release of all claims against him and numerous other individuals and entities.
The attorneys also said: “Because Prince Andrew is a senior member of the British royal family, he falls into one of the expressly identified categories of persons, ie, royalty, released from liability under the release agreement, along with politicians, academicians, businessmen and others allegedly associated with Epstein.
…now, in the interests of not wanting to find myself on the wrong end of the kind of legal troubles a royal pocketbook can bring to your door I’m not saying that specifically including royalty under the heading of “potential defendants” against charges of sexual abuse of a (then-)minor begs the question…but this hasn’t been exactly cheerful so I figure you deserve a cartoon
…& if the truth of the matter is you can’t figure out how I got to the distinction between something nauseous & being nauseated…the good news…for a given value of good…is that’s probably not your fault
That moment turned out to be the start of a journey that transformed how I think about attention. I travelled all over the world in the next three years, from Miami to Moscow to Melbourne, interviewing the leading experts in the world about focus. What I learned persuaded me that we are not now facing simply a normal anxiety about attention, of the kind every generation goes through as it ages. We are living in a serious attention crisis – one with huge implications for how we live. I learned there are twelve factors that have been proven to reduce people’s ability to pay attention and that many of these factors have been rising in the past few decades – sometimes dramatically.
I went to Portland, Oregon, to interview Prof Joel Nigg, who is one of the leading experts in the world on children’s attention problems, and he told me we need to ask if we are now developing “an attentional pathogenic culture” – an environment in which sustained and deep focus is harder for all of us. When I asked him what he would do if he was in charge of our culture and he actually wanted to destroy people’s attention, he said: “Probably what our society is doing.” Prof Barbara Demeneix, a leading French scientist who has studied some key factors that can disrupt attention, told me bluntly: “There is no way we can have a normal brain today.” We can see the effects all around us. A small study of college students found they now only focus on any one task for 65 seconds. A different study of office workers found they only focus on average for three minutes. This isn’t happening because we all individually became weak-willed. Your focus didn’t collapse. It was stolen.https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/jan/02/attention-span-focus-screens-apps-smartphones-social-media
…I don’t want to admit how many multiples of three minutes it’s taken me to get this far today…but as soon as manage to steal my focus back I’ll find some tunes to stick down here…& then maybe call it a day?