18 October 2017

The Very Definition of Concern Trolling

Douglas Schoen, former Clinton pollster and current Fox News "Democrat", has advice for the Democratic Party, "Genuflect to Wall Street:
Many of the most prominent voices in the Democratic Party, led by Bernie Sanders, are advocating wealth redistribution through higher taxes and Medicare for all, and demonizing banks and Wall Street.

Memories in politics are short, but those policies are vastly different from the program of the party’s traditional center-left coalition. Under Bill Clinton, that coalition balanced the budget, acknowledged the limits of government and protected the essential programs that make up the social safety net.
Mass incarceration, particularly of people of color, destroying welfare, NAFTA, etc.

Yeah, good times, good times.

Go Cheney yourself.

Consider the Source

Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times's cheerleader for Wall Street and its ilk, has finally noticed that Silicon Valley unicorns valuations are 6 pounds of sh%$ in a 5 pound bag:
Uber is said to be worth $62.5 billion. Airbnb is valued at $31 billion. Elon Musk’s SpaceX Technologies is valued at $21 billion, and Pinterest at $12.3 billion.

Those eye-popping valuations regularly fill articles and water-cooler conversations in Silicon Valley, all under the umbrella of “unicorn” companies — a term for private companies that are said to be worth more than $1 billion. That moniker now applies to at least 135 businesses, making the descriptions of them as unicorns, well, less apt. (Maybe donkeys?) Early investors and employees spend countless hours calculating and recalculating how much their stake is worth.

Here is some bad news for them: Those valuations may be a bit of myth — or perhaps wishful thinking.

In Palo Alto, Calif., just down the road from many of the biggest tech companies and the most influential venture capitalists, a professor at Stanford University has quietly been working on a project to crunch the valuation numbers behind some of these private companies.

Ilya A. Strebulaev and another professor working with him, Will Gornall of the University of British Columbia, have come to a startling conclusion: The average unicorn is worth half the headline price tag that is put out after each new valuation.

And if the special side deals that most unicorn companies offer to certain investors — more on this sleight of hand in a moment — are taken into account, almost half of the companies would fall below the $1 billion threshold.
Of course, Sorkin still cannot bring himself to drop the F-bomb (Fraud), but this is systemic fraud.

I don't just want to see sanity and honesty in Silicon Valley, I want to see venture capitalists frog-marched out of their offices in handcuffs.

This is Called, "Owning It."

The Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn is an, "Existential challenge to our economic model," Jeremy Corbyn wholeheartedly agrees with the Conservative official:
Jeremy Corbyn will say the chancellor, Philip Hammond, is right to call the Labour party an “existential challenge to our economic model” as he pledges to lead a government that will overturn the economic status quo.

Corbyn will tell the Co-operative party conference on Saturday that Labour would forge a fresh consensus for a modern economy, which would allow digital platforms and technological advancement such as automation to flourish in ways that empowered workers.

Responding to Hammond’s warning in his speech at this month’s Conservative conference, Corbyn will say the chancellor is “absolutely right” to say that Labour is threatening to destroy the current economic model, adding that the current system “allows homelessness to double, 4 million children to live in poverty and over a million older people not getting the care they need”.
This is how you do it.


Tweet of the Day


Yea, pretty much.

Linkage


Sand cats are the only cats that live exclusively in the desert, and sand kittens have just been filmed for the first time.

Cute alert:

17 October 2017

Interesting Twitter Fact



I would note that most, if not all, of these statues to genocidal anti-Semites have been erected since the fall of the USSR.

It ain't just history.

H/t Mark Ames.

Tweet of the Day

This tweet is making the rounds:

This is my favorite response:
Many of the responses to Lewinsky's tweet are respectful and considerate.

There are a fair number, however, are beyond contempt.

My guess is that there is a high correlation with these tweets and, "I'm with her," bumper stickers.

H/t naked capitalism.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Kevin Wilshaw, a longtime of the National Front in the UK, and a self-admitted Nazi, has eschewed his previous radical racism and come out as having a Jewish mother and being Gay:
A white supremacist active as recently as the start of this year says today he is publicly renouncing 40 years of hate. Speaking on Channel 4 News he comes out as gay for the first time – and admits to a violent past. After a lifetime of involvement with the far-right Kevin Wilshaw announces on Channel 4 News that he is leaving the movement – at the same time publicly coming out as gay.

The well known National Front organiser in the 1980s was still active in white supremacist groups earlier this year – including speaking at events.

But tonight on Channel 4 News he explains for the very first time why he is publicly disavowing the movement – sharing his secrets, explaining how he was both a Neo-Nazi and of Jewish heritage , while admitting to violent acts and what motivated his hatred.

Kevin Wilshaw also opens up about his Jewish mother.

“She was part Jewish, maiden name was Benjamin, we have Jewish blood on that side.
And here is the money quote:
Mr Wilshaw admits that being a Nazi who is gay – but with a Jewish background – is a contradiction.
Gee, you think?

BTW, Mr. Wilshaw, according to Jewish law, you are Jewish, because your mother was Jewish.

This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.

Nope, No Anthropogenic Climate Change Here


Yep, a Hurricane, hitting Ireland
A hurricane is hitting Ireland.

You heard that right, Ireland

This is the furthest east time ever that a hurricane has been observed in the modern era:
The system formerly known as Hurricane Ophelia is moving into Ireland on Monday, bringing "status red" weather throughout the day to the island. The Irish National Meteorological Service, Met Éireann, has warned that, "Violent and destructive gusts of 120 to 150km/h are forecast countrywide, and in excess of these values in some very exposed and hilly areas. There is a danger to life and property."

Ophelia transitioned from a hurricane to an extra-tropical system on Sunday, but that only marginally diminished its threat to Ireland and the United Kingdom on Monday, before it likely dissipates near Norway on Tuesday. The primary threat from the system was high winds, with heavy rains.

Forecasters marveled at the intensification of Ophelia on Saturday, as it reached Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale and became a major hurricane. For a storm in the Atlantic basin, this is the farthest east that a major hurricane has been recorded during the satellite era of observations. Additionally, it was the farthest north, at 35.9 degrees north, that an Atlantic major hurricane has existed this late in the year since 1939.

"Ophelia is breaking new ground for a major hurricane," National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake wrote on Twitter. "Typically those waters much too cool for anything this strong." He also added, "I really can’t believe I’m seeing a major just south of the Azores." Seas near where Ophelia intensified Saturday were 1-2 degrees Celsius above normal.
It goes without saying that we are in for some serious hurt over the next few years.

It also follows that climate change deniers are full of crap.

Headline of the day

It's Time for Democrats to Stop Being Such Gormless Chumps
The Week
The thesis of the article is that Democrats need understand that Republicans have no respect for the traditions of government, and that the Democrats insistence on preserving these niceties, when Republicans end them as soon as they become inconvenient, is a sucker's game:
One of the most marked characteristics of 21st century political history is the one-sided application of political norms. Democrats have done things like abolish earmarks, adopt "PAYGO" budgeting (in which the long-term stability of the national debt is written into the budget process), and respect the "blue slip" rule, which gives senators a veto over judicial appointments in their home state.

In return, Republicans have shredded those norms the moment they got in the way of their application of power. Word is, they now plan to use imaginary future growth to sidestep PAYGO rules, and it seems likely that the blue slip rule is next on the chopping block.

It's time for Democrats to stop being such gormless chumps, and start matching Republicans' procedural hardball.
The problem right now is that there is no blow-back for Republicans doing this, because when the Democrats get back in power, they pretend that the past never happened.

To quote David Mamet (he wrote the script), "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue."

An Old Hollywood Story

Here is a gem buried in a discussion about plans for the tech giants to take over the entertainment world:
Several times in conversations with people in Hollywood, I heard the tech people referred to as “dumb money” — the sort of outsiders (in the past, they came from oil, then from finance) who parade through town looking to call the shots. One Hollywood executive who has worked often with tech companies told me: “I wouldn’t say we’ve looked at them with fear, no.”
Yeah, pretty much.

I Have a Script Treatment for the Sharknado XIX

It appears that scientists have discovered that sometimes, alligators hunt and kill sharks:
American alligators are frequently seen ambling around golf courses in Florida as players warily compete their rounds. But new research suggests the reptiles partake in a far more outlandish habit when away from the greens – eating sharks.

US researchers have documented instances of alligators preying upon small sharks along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. A study, published in the journal Southeastern Naturalist, claims to be the first scientific study of the largely unseen struggle between the two feared predators.

“The frequency of one predator eating the other is really about size dynamic,” said James Nifong, a researcher at Kansas State University. “If a small shark swims by an alligator and the alligator feels like it can take the shark down, it will, but we also reviewed some old stories about larger sharks eating smaller alligators.”
Nature in all its glory.

16 October 2017

Germany Hegemony in Europe, Civil Turmoil in Spain, Fascists in Austria ……… I'm Sensing a Pattern

As the saying goes, "History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes, and Vienna is today's episode of European slam poetry:
Austria became the latest European country to take a sharp turn right on Sunday, with the conservative People’s Party riding a hard-line position on immigration to victory in national elections and likely to form a government with a nationalist party that has long advocated for an even tougher stance.

The result puts the 31-year-old foreign minister and People’s Party leader, Sebastian Kurz, in line to become Austria’s next chancellor after a campaign in which he emphasized the need to strengthen border controls, reduce caps on refugees and slash benefits for newcomers.

Much of Kurz’s rhetoric echoed positions long held by the Freedom Party, which for decades has anchored the far right of politics in this nation of 8.7 million.

With nearly all results counted as of Monday morning, the Freedom Party was in second place at 27.4 percent, with the ruling Social Democrats trailing close behind at 26.7 percent. The People’s Party was the decisive winner, at 31.6 percent.
 I hope that I'm just being alarmist here, but I fear that I'm being prescient.

The Obvious Point Is That the Kurds Don't Have Their Sh%$ Together

I'd like to see a Kurdish homeland some day, but it's not going to happen until Kurdish dynastic conflicts don't take precedence over their own sense of nationhood.

Until then, they will be played off against each other for the benefit of other peoples:
After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government carried out a military assault on Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation’s Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

The deadly clashes pitted two crucial American allies against each other, with government forces seizing Kirkuk from Kurds who had intended to build a separate nation in the northern third of Iraq.

The Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence from Iraq in a referendum three weeks ago. The United States, Baghdad and most countries in the region had condemned the vote, fearing it would fuel ethnic divisions, lead to the breakup of Iraq and hobble the fight against the Islamic State.

Iraqi government troops and the Kurdish forces, known as pesh merga, are both essential elements of the American-led coalition battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Both forces are supplied and trained by the United States.

Despite the resounding success of the referendum, Iraqi forces were able to take Kirkuk in a single day and with little fight, partly because it is a multiethnic city of Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs, and partly because the Kurds themselves were divided.

Baghdad had forged an agreement with the Kurdish faction that controlled most of the strategic points of Kirkuk, allowing government forces to sweep into much of the city without firing a shot. But skirmishes with another Kurdish faction left nearly 30 dead and dozens wounded, according to local hospitals.
(emphasis mine)

They are a people, but they are not yet a nation.

Of Course, It's P G & F%$#ing E

Well, authorities are now looking at the potential cause of the devastating fires in northern California.

At the top of the list is tree branches hitting power-lines.

The power-lines in the area are operated by Pacific Gas and Electric, and PG&E has a very long history of short changing basic maintenance to improve the bottom line for shareholders.

This resulted in it being hit with significant fines for (quick Google) the Butte Fire (2015), the Rough and Ready fire (1994), the San Bruno gas explosion (2010), and (of course) poisoning people in Hinkley with toxic waste. (the movie Erin Brokovich was based on this)

The fires started almost simultaneously with reports of power outages around the origin points.
As the first reports came in Sunday night of numerous fires that would grow into one of the most destructive wildfire disasters in California history, emergency dispatchers in Sonoma County received multiple calls of power lines falling down and electrical transformers exploding.

In all, according to a review of emergency radio traffic by the Bay Area News Group, Sonoma County dispatchers sent out fire crews to at least 10 different locations across the county over a 90-minute period starting at 9:22 pm to respond to 911 calls and other reports of sparking wires and problems with the county’s electrical system amid high winds.

State fire officials said Tuesday that they are still investigating the cause of the blazes, which as of late Tuesday had killed 17 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Sonoma, Napa and other Northern California counties.

But the reports of the power equipment failures began to turn the spotlight on PG&E, the giant San Francisco-based utility, raising questions about how well it maintained its equipment in the area and whether it adequately cut back trees from power lines to reduce fire risk — as required by state law.

………

PG&E and other large utilities in California have a long history of being found responsible for major wildfires because of inadequate maintenance of their power lines.

In April, the state Public Utilities Commission fined PG&E $8.3 million for failing to maintain a power line that sparked the Butte Fire in Amador County in September 2015. That fire burned for 22 days, killing two people, destroying 549 homes and charring 70,868 acres.

CalFire announced last year that it will seek to force PG&E to pay $90 million in firefighting costs. More than 1,000 lawsuits and claims are still pending against the utility.

“It was more than just a lack of maintenance. It was a complete disregard for their requirements of vegetation management in rural areas,” said Burlingame attorney Frank Pitre, who sued on behalf of the victims.
PG&E claims that these winds were "hurricane force", which is a lie.

Winds were in the 45 mph range (sustained) with gusts (3-5 seconds) to 75 mph, which are not at all unusual for California.

If they hadn't been bingeing on their own seed corn to overpay senior management, PG&E would have had no problems, and the current disaster would not have happened.

These sorts of disasters will get worse with the impact of anthropogenic climate change.

California privately owned utilities in general, and PGE in particular, have a long record of  neglecting maintenance, and PUC has an equally long history of being in bed with these companies.

Now might be a good time to look at making municipally owned utilities easier via the initiative petition process.

It gives cheaper rates and better run utilities.

Strike while the iron, and the forest, and a few thousand homes, are hot.

Linkage


Yes, I enjoy these sorts of videos, but I am a dull guy:

15 October 2017

This is Why Obama's Knifing Ellison in the DNC Race Makes a Difference

DNC Chairman Tom Perez has appointed a fierce opponent of the minimum wage to its finance committee, because ……… Hell because the New Dem wing of the Democratic Party needs to accommodate abusive employers, slumlords, Wall Street, and evil people in general, because they want their money to pay for overpriced incompetent consultants:
Various sources have reported that Tom Perez, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, has appointed Atlanta native Dan Halpern to the finance committee of the party.
Specifically, he will be part of a squad of deputy national finance chairs. As the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports:

Halpern chaired Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s mayoral campaign in 2009 and served as a trustee for then-President-elect Barack Obama’s 2008 inaugural committee. Halpern also is immediate past chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority Board of Directors and a past chairman of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

In a party that says it’s trying to be progressive, Halpern is a strange direction. As the head of Jackmont Hospitality and the GRA, Halpern has reliably opposed the minimum wage. His record thus far suggests a hostility towards the kind of worker-friendly policies that the Bernie-era Dems are supposedly pursuing. It suggests Perez, and Perez’s backers and friends, have not gotten the memo about economic justice.

In Halpern’s home state of Georgia, according to Politifact “Senate Bill 314 called for raising Georgia’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but it didn’t get so much as a hearing.”

Why? Halpern’s people—the Georgia Restaurant Association—claimed that there would be a potential loss of 21,000 jobs, ignoring the increased possibility for consumer spending, for new jobs, for giving hungry people a hand up. Everything must benefit the boardroom, you see, or it’s not worth doing. As Politifact helpfully reminds us, “Georgia’s minimum wage is technically $5.15 an hour (Georgia Code 34-4-3) and has been since 2001. But the vast majority of Georgia employers (some say more than 99 percent) must comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which means they have to pay their employees the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.” If given god-like sway over the business, Halpern and his GRA would probably prefer to keep this amount even lower.

Hardly surprising. When a guy is described by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a “Georgia Democratic moneyman,” it’s safe bet he couldn’t give two hoots in hell for a single mother making minimum wage at McDonald’s.
Is it any wonder that the Democratic Party brand is in the sewer?

This sort of crap is toxic.

14 October 2017

Deep Thought



H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Israel Has 2Nd Thoughts about V-22 Acquisition


V-22s Range Advantage has a Cost
Israel seemed poised to purchase the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey, and now they have put this on hold.

I am not particularly surprised.

The V-22 is a maintenance hog, and cost a fair amount to operate.

While the Osprey is about 100 kts faster, has a longer range, it can only carry about 1/3 of the payload, even though it has 2/3 of the installed power.

Additionally, unlike a conventional helicopter, the V-22 does not have a meaningful auto-rotation capability, and its performance with external loads is pathetic.

Israel simply does not have the need for the additional capabilities offered by the tilt-rotor:
The Israeli air force has frozen its evaluation of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, with a senior defence source indicating that the tiltrotor is unable to perform some missions currently conducted using its Sikorsky CH-53 transport helicopters.

In January 2014, the US Department of Defense notified Congress about its intention to sell six V-22s to Israel. This followed an evaluation conducted by air force personnel, which led to the service seeking a rapid acquisition to support special operations. The proposed purchase met with opposition from elsewhere within Israel's defence ministry, however.

Other potential candidates to replace the Israeli air force's aged CH-53s by around 2025 include Sikorsky's new CH-53K and the Boeing CH-47 Chinook.
Simply put, the IDF does not have the requirements, such as amphibious landings from extreme distance, that have driven the V-22, and as such, it does not make sense.

13 October 2017

As If Roy Moore Could Not Be Any More Contemptible………

In 2004, Alabama tried to amend the state constitution to remove (unenforceable) provisions requiring school segregation and poll taxes.

Roy Moore led the successful (the referendum failed) campaign to keep these provisions in the state constitution:
In 2004, a bipartisan coalition of Alabama leaders moved to eliminate sections of the state constitution mandating school segregation and poll taxes. They assumed it’d be an easy feat — until Roy Moore got involved.

Democrats and Republicans led by then-Gov. Bob Riley (R) worked together on an amendment to remove language in the state constitution mandating “separate schools for white and colored children” and allowing poll taxes, Jim Crow-era requirements that people to pay to vote that disenfranchised most black people.

The changes were purely symbolic — all of the state constitutional language had already been struck down by state and federal courts — but civil rights and business leaders saw it as a way to heal old wounds and make the state more attractive to big business.

The opposite happened instead, and Moore’s fierce opposition likely made the difference.
Modern conservatism is indistinguishable from racism, and has been since William F. Buckley filled The National Review with full throated endorsements of segregation in the 1950s and 1960s.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

Nothing for a quarter, and now we have a bank and a credit union in the past week and a half.

Still the pace is ahead of 2016.

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far:
  1. The Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Argonia, Aragonia, KS
Full FDIC list

And here are the credit union closings: 
  1. Shreveport Federal Credit Union, Shreveport, LA
Here is the Full NCUA list.

So, here is the graph pr0n with last few years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

12 October 2017

Jumping C. Megaladon*


Seriously, this sh%$ has jumped the shark
Seriously, this Russian meddling with the election crap has taken a left turn into the Twilight Zone.

We now have claims that the Russian government used Pokemon Go to influence the election.

I have no doubt that there are Russian trolls out there, and I am even more certain that there elements in the Russian internet community who generate a living through click bait, but the idea that the Russian state security apparatus would use Pokemon f%$#ing Go to subvert our election is simply insane.

This, "A noun, a verb, and Vladimir Putin," mishugas needs to stop.
It's not just Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Even Pokemon Go, the mega-popular smartphone game that became a phenomenon last year, was the target of Russian agents trying to meddle with the 2016 US election, according to a report Thursday by CNN.

The effort was allegedly centered on a campaign called "Don't Shoot Us," an apparent reference "Hands Up, Don't Shoot," a mantra in widespread use after the shooting of Michael Brown.

The campaign is said to be tied to agents in Russia, and it reportedly used social media services like Facebook and Twitter to try to exploit racial tensions in the US. But there was one surprise target: Pokemon Go.

In playing Pokemon Go, people go to real-world locations to find and train digital monsters, which appear on their phone screens against the landscape picked up by the phones' cameras.According to the CNN report, the Don't Shoot Us campaign announced a contest on its Tumblr page in July 2016 for Pokemon Go players. The contest encouraged them to visit locations where alleged cases of police brutality took place. Players were also asked to give their Pokemon critters the names of people shot by police, including Eric Garner. The campaign offered players Amazon gift cards as rewards.
Just shoot me.

*The largest shark, and likely largest predator fish ever. It died out some 1.5 million years ago. The Genus is still in dispute, between either Carcharodon (Great White) or Carcharocles (broad toothed Mako). So in jumping C. Megalodon, you have jumped the biggest shark ever.

Savvy Move


This actually makes sense. Sweeney is guaranteed to win regardless of the contributions, but he has also been operating cheek by jowl with Chris Christie in gutting education and worker retirement plans.

In endorsing his opponent in the general election, the NJEA is signalling to other New Jersey Democrats that their support is not to be taken for granted.

It's not like Sweeney could be any more hostile to the interests of teachers, and putting fear into the hearts of the caucus that he needs to get anything done.

As the song says,  "People will always be tempted to wipe their feet, On anything with 'welcome' written on it."

It's a well justified brush-back pitch:
In an otherwise predictable New Jersey election season, the state’s largest public sector union has come out behind a Trump-supporting Republican facing an incumbent Democrat. The New Jersey Education Association, which is New Jersey’s top political spender, is backing Republican Fran Grenier against Steve Sweeney, the Democratic state Senate president and New Jersey’s second most-powerful elected official. The controversial endorsement has angered liberal allies, but the union remains unapologetic in its message: Democrats cannot take teachers for granted.

It’s a contentious move, but one that is unlikely to change the ultimate outcome of the election. Democrats are expected to control all three branches of government after November, a major turning point for the Garden State. After seven years under Republican Gov. Chris Christie — a man boasting an impressively low 15 percent approval rating — a majority of voters are expected to cast their ballot for Phil Murphy, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate running against the GOP’s Kim Guadagno. And with a state legislature that’s also expected to remain blue, progressives have been eagerly anticipating their chance to start reversing the policies of Christie’s tenure.

That explains why the NJEA has decided to spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in what’s shaping up to be the most expensive legislative race in state history to try to unseat Sweeney: The union feels the top Democrat has betrayed it one too many times.

………

Sweeney, who first joined the state Senate in 2002, became majority leader in 2007 and Senate president in 2010. His relationship with the NJEA began to sour in 2011 when he pushed forward a deal with Christie that limited pension and health benefits for public sector workers. The union says Sweeney has continued to cozy up with Christie and has failed to forcefully criticize the governor’s underfunding of public education. The relationship deteriorated even further last year when Sweeney walked back on a promise to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to fully fund pensions, and then accused the NJEA of bribery and extortion.

This past March, the NJEA declared it would try to unseat Sweeney, but there were no Democrats willing to primary him. The union could have chosen to give no endorsement and still run negative ads against Sweeney, but the NJEA instead decided to endorse his Republican challenger along with running attack ads.

You Have Got to be F%$#ing Kidding Me



And then he sang, "I saw your boobs."


Notice the Slightly Uncomfortable Audience Reaction?
The story about Harvey Weinstein's long history of harassment and assault of women in Hollywood continues to get more horrifying.

It also gets weirder. Now we have an explanation for a Seth McFarlane joke at the 2013 Oscars, and basically it's him seizing the moral high ground.

You hear heard that right, "Seth McFarlane seizing the moral high ground."

Now THERE is a phrase I never expected to write.

He had been told in confidence by a friend what had been done to them, and given those constraints, he went after Weinstein with a joke:
As allegations against disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein pile up, more and more celebrities are coming forward to either confirm or deny their own preexisting knowledge about the situation.

On Wednesday, Seth MacFarlane explained the origins of a 2013 joke he made at Harvey Weinstein's expense during the announcement of Academy Award nominations.

MacFarlane cracked his joke immediately after he listed the nominees for supporting actress. "Congratulations," he said. "You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein," which got a considerable response from the room.

"In 2011, my friend and colleague Jessica Barth, with whom I worked on the ‘Ted’ films, confided in me regarding her encounter with Harvey Weinstein and his attempted advances," MacFarlane said in a statement on social media Wednesday. "She has since courageously come forward to speak out. It was with this account in mind that, when I hosted the Oscars in 2013, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a hard swing in his direction."
I still find it hard to believe that Seth F%$#ing McFarlane is seizing the moral high ground.

We are living in profoundly strange times.

11 October 2017

Tweet(s) of the Day

They both have to do with Russia, and the current hysteria that posits that $100,000 in ads on Facebook somehow trumped the $1,000,000,000 that the Clinton campaign spent.

The first is about bus kiosk ads from RT:



The second one, from the Russian ambassador to the UK, hits the British where it hurts, their 52 year drought in the World Cup:

Dayyymmmm! That one is going to leave a mark.

H/t Naked Capitalism.

Linkage



I am so seeing Deadpool 2 in the movie theater:

10 October 2017

Headline of the Day

Oh Chris Cillizza, You F%$#ING Sh%$heel
Evan Hurst at Wonkette
Over at everyone's source of snark, Mr. Hurst did two things:
  1. Called out Chris Cilizza for being a completely worthless prat. (Easy)
  2. Changed my mind.  (Not so easy)
Specifically, he was, with an assist from John Cole, talking about Cillizza's demand that Hillary Clinton issue a statement about the revelations about Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment sexual assault over the past few decades.

I was actually considering doing the same thing, but then I read this:
Make no mistake, this is no “analysis” as he has it labeled. And the thing you need to realize is Cillizza KNOWS that Clinton doesn’t support rape and sexual assault, he just wants make her respond. It’s him using his forum to make her jump- he might as well be saying “Dance, mad bitch, dance,” because we all know that if she does respond, Cillizza’s next piece will be “what took her so long” and “was she sincere” and so on. 
They are right, and so I put the kibosh on writing a similar article to Cillizza's.

I'm now actually feeling a bit ashamed that I was considering doing something like this.

As an aside, Hillary Clinton did condemn Weinstein today, as did the Obamas, but that really none of my f%$#ing business.

Keeping a score card on this sh%$ is lame.

Another Stopped Clock Moment from Trump

It appears that the Trump administration wants to effectively gut the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), which would be a very good thing:
U.S. ISDS PROPOSAL WOULD CUT TWO KEY PROTECTIONS: Expect USTR to put at least one of those “poison pills” forward at talks this week. The final U.S. proposal on investor-state dispute settlement comes not only with an “opt-in” provisions that effectively makes the whole process voluntary, but also rolls back two key investor protections private companies have been able to use under the mechanism in past U.S. agreements. U.S. business and agriculture groups have already signaled that a radical departure from the current U.S. approach to investor protections would be forcefully opposed by them.
I don't expect this to actually happen.

Even if Trump wants to do this, and I think that it is likely posturing, I would expect resistance from Congressional Republicans and the non "Alt-Right" personnel in his administration to make this outcome highly unlikely.

Adding to the List of They Who Must Not Be Named

Former football coach and tight end Mike Ditka, who just said that, "there has been no oppression in the United States in the past 100 years:
Even before this NFL season, which has featured team owners linking arms with players as shows of solidarity amid sharply critical comments from President Trump, some players were noting that the original message of protests during the national anthem had been largely lost. To them, the cause of bringing attention to racial injustice, in particular police brutality against black men, had been overshadowed by a heated national discussion over the merits of taking a knee during the national anthem.

To former NFL coach and ESPN analyst Mike Ditka, however, that cause made no sense to begin with. In a pregame interview before a radio broadcast of Monday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, he said, “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of.”
The Germans have a term for this, Fachidiot, (Google Translate) which refers to an expert who is a complete moron outside of his limited area of expertise.

Thus, I add Michael Keller Ditka to my list of They Who Must Not Be Named, unless he decides to do something like running for office, (please God no) you will here nothing about him from me

Of course, I haven't posted about him before, so carry on.

09 October 2017

Turns Out That the New York Times Buried the Weinstein Story 13 Years Ago

It turns out that Sharon Waxman wrote just such a story, and it was edited to irrelevance by New York Times senior staff in 2004:
A whole lot of fur has been flying since last Thursday, when The New York Times published a game-changing investigative story about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct that in lightning speed brought the mogul to his knees.

He apologized and took an immediate leave of absence from the company he co-founded, but that wasn’t enough. His board members and legal advisers have been resigning en masse. And as new, ugly details emerge of three decades of settlements for sex-related offenses, he’s quickly becoming a national pariah.

I applaud The New York Times and writers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey for getting the story in print. I’m sure it was a long and difficult road.

But I simply gagged when I read Jim Rutenberg’s sanctimonious piece on Saturday about the “media enablers” who kept this story from the public for decades.

………

The story I reported never ran.

After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly to vouch for Lombardo and unknown discussions well above my head at the Times, the story was gutted.

was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.

But I had the facts, and this was the Times. Right?

Wrong. The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?
The only question I have is, "Why Now?"

There has to be some sort of back-story which we have not yet heard.

This has been an open secret for years.

A friend of my father's has been deep in Oregon politics for years, and she said that it was generally known that Bob Packwood was a sexually abusive drunk for at least a decade before this became public.

Why does this sort of crap stay covered up and then suddenly come out?

I can understand a few years, but why a few decades?

Why does it take so f%$#ing long?

Quote of the Day

If taxation is theft, then so is profit and property. That’s because private ownership of the means of production is protected by the capitalist state, and we as regular working citizens are coerced into accepting this arrangement under which we are exploited for profit.
Extra Newsfeed
There is not a square inch of land on this planet that wasn't stolen at some point.

Private property is an artificial construct which has not for over 90% of human history.

Linkage


Bespoke hand binding of a book. It's almost pornographic.

08 October 2017

Thoughts and Prayers from NRA Stooges

Splinter magazine has a complete list of, "Every Member of Congress Who Took Money From the NRA and Tweeted 'Thoughts and Prayers' to Las Vegas."

I have a partial list from the article after the break. 

I only listed those who took more than $3000 from the NRA in the last election cycle. and then posted, "Thoughts and Prayers"

You will notice that they are all Republicans, and you will notice that Steve Scalise, who nearly died from a shooting is on this list.

These folks next job should involving asking if you want fries with that.

Tory Program to Destroy NHS Continues

The Conservative Party in Britain has been privatizing the National Health Service (NHS) one bit at at time, and now we are seeing the consequencesn.

Specifically, Virgin Care, a private management company running the NHS is Bath, instructed its staff to cover up health and safety at the institution:
Virgin Care asked staff in the Bath area not to report their safety concerns to the health watchdog.

Registered managers in health and social care have a legal obligation to report issues to the Care Quality Commission if they feel their service is unsafe.

But Virgin Care asked its managers in Bath and North East Somerset to “hold off” from contacting the CQC as they struggled with IT issues affecting community health and social care services.

Patients had appointments cancelled, letters and reports were not sent out, and nurses had problems updating patient records during Virgin Care’s first three months in charge of community care in B&NES.


......

Virgin Care said it had "shared comprehensive details with the CQC and they have not raised any concerns".

The private company said it had IT issues under control in its first report to the council in July.

But two weeks earlier, a senior manager had emailed service managers asking them to help “manage the situation” by not reporting their concerns to the CQC.
For the Tories, this is not a bug, it is a feature.

Their goal is slowly make the NHS worse and worse until it loses its overwhelming public support, and can then be terminated.

It's Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine writ slow, and Britain's conservatives have created a constituency for this policy by allowing the malefactors of great wealth, including Richard Branson (Virgin Care), to profit from this.

When Big Money Is All in, It's the Status Quo, Not a Revolution

Previously I have suggested that if "The Resistance" ever was anything, it was being co-opted by the incompetent Democratic establishment to deflect from any meaningful accountability for their failures.

Now the New York Times, drops an article talking about how "The Resistance" is upending liberal politics.

Their evidence is that big donors are aggressively contributing to the "Grass Roots Movement".

This is not is actually evidence of the opposite:
It started as a scrappy grass-roots protest movement against President Trump, but now the so-called resistance is attracting six- and seven-figure checks from major liberal donors, posing an insurgent challenge to some of the left’s most venerable institutions — and the Democratic Party itself.

………

Entrenched Democratic groups are facing growing questions about the return on the hundreds of millions of dollars they have spent over the years. Groups affiliated with Mrs. Clinton “spent so much money based on a bad strategy in this last cycle that they should step aside and let others lead in this moment,” said Quentin James, a founder of a political committee called the Collective PAC that supports African-American candidates.

Mr. James’s committee is among more than three dozen outfits that have started or reconfigured themselves since the election to try to harness the surge in anti-Trump activism. In addition to political committees, grass-roots mobilization nonprofits and legal watchdog groups, there are for-profit companies providing technological help to the new groups — essentially forming a new liberal ecosystem outside the confines of the Democratic Party.

………

“We’re in a disruptive period, and when we get through it, the progressive infrastructure landscape may look different,” said Gara LaMarche, president of the Democracy Alliance, a club of wealthy liberals who donate at least $200,000 a year to recommended groups. “There may be groups that have been around that don’t rise to the challenge, and there may be some new groups that do rise to the challenge, while others fade away.”

The Democracy Alliance has helped shape the institutional left, steering more than $600 million since its inception in 2005 to a portfolio of carefully selected groups, including pillars of the Clinton-aligned establishment like the think tank Center for American Progress and the media watchdog Media Matters.
This is not, "An insurgent challenge to some of the left’s most venerable institutions," this is a rebranding this is more of the same.

The big donors, the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, want gay marriage, but they don't want unions or effective progressive taxation, or or fair trade deals, or cheaper drugs, or sensible limits to IP, since that would require real sacrifices on their part.

This is more of the same.

Tweet of the Day

I have been waiting for a Republican to completely go postal  on Donald Trump, but I would not have bet on Corker.

I would have figured that it would have been John McCain, whose temper was impressive even as an infant, would have been the first one to do this.

Still, this was a masterful burn on "The Donald". 

I am amused.

H/t Wonkette, who puts their approval in somewhat earthier language.

07 October 2017

A Well Deserved Indictment

After initiating a hihgly invasive pat-down of every student at a high school, a Georgia sheriff has been indicted on charges of exual battery, false imprisonment, and violation of oath of office.

There was no warrant, no probable cause, and the school had already been subjected to searches by other law enforcement.

All of the students were subjected to aggressive physical searches, including touching of their genitals and breasts.

Here's hoping that the local prosecutor goes medieval on this guys ass.

Catalan Farmers PWn Police

Catalan farmers announced plans to block roads with their tractors at the French border.

Police raced to the border so that they could, as is their wont, break some Catalan heads.

They found no one.

The farmers had decoyed the police and established the blocked further south, effectively marooning the police and national guard. (Google translate link)

Even if I were not inclined to support the Catalans, (Rajoy and his PP party are Franco's heirs, and the King of Spain is, well, the King of Spain, the heir of Ferdinand and Isabella, who I am even less inclined to suppor) I would admire the sheer level of protest craft in this deception.

Well played.

H/T Anti-Fascist News on Facebook, the source of the picture.

Snark of the Day


Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong If Elon Musk Is Chosen To Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid
Dealbreaker
Count me as dubious as the folks at Dealbreaker.

There is a Thin Line Between Terrorism and Pumpkin Spice Air Freshener

Just ask the Baltimore City fire department and its hazmat teams:
There was an unusual smell Thursday afternoon at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Upper Fells Point. The smell was on the third floor. Students and teachers didn’t know what it was.

“It was a smell that they certainly weren’t used to,” said Bill Heiser, the school’s president, who was off-campus at the time. “It appeared to be getting stronger.”

Several students and teachers reported difficulty breathing, Heiser said.

The school’s principal evacuated the building and the fire department was called. After arriving, the fire department requested a Hazmat team, which ran several tests for hazardous materials. All of them were negative, according to Baltimore fire spokesman Roman Clark.

………

Firefighters began to open all the windows in the building to air it out.

Then, Clark said, they located the source of the smell in a third-floor classroom: an aerosol plugin. Flavor: pumpkin spice.
F%$#ing pumpkin spice strikes again.

Now it's not just polluting our Starbucks, it's interfering with the education of our kids.

It must be stop.

Well, They Would Say That, Wouldn't They*

It appears that Oracle Corporation has gone to war against the "evils" of open source software.

Seeing as how it cost them money, and open source software had to be used fix disastrous issues with some of their recent projects, (**cough** failed healthecare exchanges **cough**) it should surprise no one that they have chosen to go full jihad against this:
Even though Oracle is based in the heart of Silicon Valley (I can see its offices from my own office window as I type this), the company has become sort of anti-Silicon Valley. It tends to represent the opposite of nearly everything that is accepted wisdom around here. And its latest crusade is against open source technology being used by the federal government -- and against the government hiring people out of Silicon Valley to help create more modern systems. Instead, Oracle would apparently prefer the government just give it lots of money.

First, some background: over the past few years, one of the most positive things involving the federal government and technology has been the success of two similar (but also very different) organizations in the US government: US Digital Service (USDS) and 18F. If you're completely unfamiliar with them there are plenty of articles describing both projects, but this one is a good overview. But the really short version is that both projects were an attempt to convince internet savvy engineers to help out in the federal government, and to bring a better understanding of modern technology into government. And it's been a huge success in a variety of ways -- such as creating federal government websites that are modern, secure and actually work. And even though both programs are associated with President Obama, the Trump administration has been adamant that it supports both organizations as well, and they're important to continuing to modernize the federal government. The offices are not politicized, and they have been some of the best proof we've got that government done right involves smart, dedicated technologists.

………

A little more background: if it weren't for Oracle's failures, there might not even be a USDS. USDS really grew out of the emergency hiring of some top notch internet engineers in response to the Healthcare.gov rollout debacle. And if you don't recall, a big part of that debacle was blamed on Oracle's technology. So, perhaps it's not surprising that Oracle might hold a bit of a grudge against USDS. Similarly, while Oracle likes to claim that it's supportive of open source technologies, most recognize that open source has been eating Oracle's lunch for a while now. 



Even with all that background, the sheer contempt found in Oracle's submission on IT modernization is pretty stunning. The letter complains about three "false narratives" that "have taken the [US government] off track":
False Narrative: Government should attempt to emulate the fast-paced innovation of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is comprised of IT vendors most of which fail. The USG is not a technology vendor nor is it a start-up. Under no circumstance should the USG attempt to become a technology vendor. The USG can never develop, support or secure products economically or at scale. Government developed products are not subject to the extensive testing in the commercial market. Instead, the Government should attempt to emulate the best-practices of large private-sector Fortune 50 customers, which have competed, evaluated, procured and secured commercial technology successfully.
There's even more nuttiness in the filing, but you can go through it yourself and count how frequently you gasp at just how wrong it is. This is an old, legacy company trying to cling desperately to old, obsolete, legacy ways. Oracle's entire business was originally created to serve the US government as a customer, and it clearly doesn't want to give that up. But, once again, things like this just make it clear why the top engineers coming out of school today don't have much interest in going to work for a company with views like Oracle's. 
As Upton Sinclair was wont to say, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

*It's a Mandy Rice-Davies/Profumo Affair reference.  Learn your modern British sex scandal history.

06 October 2017

This Story Is Not What You Think It Is

For the past few days, there has been a story making the rounds about how a mother has been sent to jail for refusing to vaccinate her child.

You could think of this as a story of overreach by public health authorities, but it's not.

You could also think of it as long overdue action by public health authorities against the clear and present dangers of the loss of herd immunity, but it's not that either.

It's a child custody dispute.

Both parents have joint custody, and they ended up in court to adjudicate their disagreement over whether or not their child should be immunized.

They judge ruled, the wife disobeyed, and he sent her to jail for contempt of court.

This is a remarkably ordinary dispute between two divorced parents over a medical decision, and that is all.

Headline of the Day

The Cop Suing James Blake for Defamation After Racially Profiling and Assaulting Him Is the Whitest Thing That Happened This Week
The Root
It appears that NYPD officer James Frascatore is suffering butt-hurt over being identified as a racist goon.  (His words)

05 October 2017

I Have Got to Admire the Ingenuity Here

In response to the Teutonic sado-monetarism Italy has taken to using tax credits to allow the government to pay for some of the services that it needs.

The interesting point here is that they are a very short distance from actually creating money without coming hat in hand to the European Central Bank (ECB)

If the Italians take their program one more step forward, and they are creating money:
Italy is experimenting with giving tax-cuts to its citizens in exchange for public services―such as pulling weeds and cutting grass. Wow. What an amazing idea! The government issues a tax credit, and uses it to pay a citizen in exchange for the citizen’s services to the government. The government could even make this arrangement more formal by printing the tax credits on pieces of paper called “LIRIES” (or something like that) and paying for the weed-whacking services with this “cash.” That way the citizen who’s earned the “LIRIES” has the option of using them as payment to another citizen (who’d also like a tax-cut) for, say, a bag of potatoes. So, the first citizen pulls some weeds, gets paid in “cash” and then uses the “cash” to buy her dinner. If you thought about it, you could possibly run an entire economy in this fashion. The only thing you’d have to worry about, of course, is that the government might run out of the tax-credits it needs to pay the citizens to do the work! If that happened, where could the government possibly get more tax-credits? Could it collect tax-credits as “taxes”? Could it borrow them from all the street-sweepers and weed-whackers who’ve earned them? (In which case it would have to pay “tax-credit interest”―which just seems to exacerbate the problem!) Hmmm. I’m going to have to think about that one. But in the meantime, doesn’t this mean that any Eurozone country has the option to stay IN the Eurozone while at the same time operating its own local economy using its own local “sovereign” currency?
In a followup, it is explained how this can be used to essentially create money:
As I said, Italy, is now experimenting with paying for public services with tax credits. Presumably, this is happening because Italy doesn’t possess enough Euros to pay its citizens to provide all the goods and services needed to maintain and run the public sector of its social economy. And Italy can’t “create” the additional Euros it needs because that prerogative is the exclusive right of the EU Central Bank which Italy, even as a sovereign member of the EU, has no control over. But, as the news article explains, Italy still needs to have the grass mowed and the weeds pulled in its public gardens. So it has decided (out of desperation, the article implies) to pay the gardeners with tax-credits. The gardeners are willing to do the work in exchange for the government’s tax-credits, because it means the Euros they earn (in other ways) can then be used to purchase goods and services rather than for paying their taxes. So, in practical terms, it is “just like” getting paid in Euros.

This, in fact, is way more interesting than it seems. In fact, it might even be mind-expanding! Here’s why:

Presumably, the tax-credit payments described take the form of notations on the gardeners’ tax account. An hour’s worth of weeding is noted as 15 Euros worth of extinguished taxes. If the gardener has a tax liability of, say, €3750, her taxes would be completely paid after providing 250 hours of weeding and pruning. After that, obviously, she’d have no more incentive to provide any services in exchange for the tax-credits. So the amount of services Italy can obtain in this fashion is directly limited by the amount of tax liabilities it can impose on its citizens.

It would be possible, however, to structure the tax-credit payments in another way which would have a very different outcome. Instead of making the payment as a credit notation on a citizen’s tax account, the Italian government could issue paper tax-credits and pay them to the citizens for their gardening services. To be specific, this would be a piece of “official” paper, signed with an important signature, on which was printed something like the following:

The Sovereign Italian Government promises the bearer of this paper ONE EURO of credit on taxes owed to the Sovereign Italian Government.

………

Now we have to ask an important question: Is the amount of services Italy can obtain by issuing and “spending” its paper tax-credits still directly limited by the amount of tax liabilities it can impose on its citizens? In other words, if every Italian citizen theoretically has received enough PTCs to pay their taxes with—either having received them directly from the government for providing public services, or having received them from other citizens in exchange for lasagna dinners—will the citizens’ willingness to exchange real goods and services in exchange for the PTCs come to a halt?

Crucially, the answer is No. This is because the act of “embodying” the tax-credits in exchangeable pieces of paper has given the PTCs a usefulness in addition to their usefulness as tax payments: This additional usefulness, of course, is the ability to use them to buy goods and services from other Italian citizens and businesses. Thus, the number of paper tax-credits in “circulation” could vastly exceed, at any given time, the total actual tax liabilities of the Italian citizenry. The PTCs would continue to be accepted for lasagna dinners, because the Trattoria owners know they can use the PTCs they receive to subsequently buy Italian shoes and motorcycles— in addition to using them to pay their taxes.

It will no doubt have dawned on most every reader that what we’ve just created is “money.” Specifically, we’ve created what is called “fiat money”—which happens to be the kind of money the world has been using now for the past half century (ever since the U.S. formally abandoned the gold-standard in 1971). Having thus conjured a rudimentary image of fiat-money to life we should quickly make some important (and perhaps startling) observations about it.

………

Having made these observations, it appears the Italian government has stumbled on an actual solution to the “austerity” it has been forced to impose on itself by the European Union. Except we must now confront the fact that the rules of the EU do not ALLOW Italy to issue and spend its own sovereign fiat currency! The only “money” Italy is allowed to use is the Euro—and the only way the Italian government can obtain Euros is either by collecting them as taxes from its citizens, or by borrowing them from the European Central Bank, which has the exclusive prerogative of issuing them. And these methods of obtaining Euros to spend are falling short of what Italy needs to pay its citizens to do. So…. Italy has decided to pay its citizens with tax-credits, and then (why not?) with paper tax-credits. And then, presumably, the EU says, “Whoa, hold on here! It looks like you are printing your own money, which is not allowed by our rules!”
While I don't think that the Italians would have the guts to take this to the next level right now, but this would a good way to deal with the current problems with the Euro.  (Not as good as getting the Germans out of the Euro, but a pretty close 2nd)

If you are paying attention, going the full Magilla on this is actually an application of MMT, and the British city of Bristol has been trying something rather similar with the Bristol Pound, which in accordance with Modern Monetary Theory, can be used to pay local taxes.

It really is fascinating.

H/t Naked Capitalism.

Arbeit Macht Frei

Oklahoma and surrounding judges are sending accused criminals to slave labor camps, in particular, they get sent to Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR):
The worst day of Brad McGahey’s life was the day a judge decided to spare him from prison.

McGahey was 23 with dreams of making it big in rodeo, maybe starring in his own reality TV show. With a 1.5 GPA, he’d barely graduated from high school. He had two kids and mounting child support debt. Then he got busted for buying a stolen horse trailer, fell behind on court fines and blew off his probation officer.

Standing in a tiny wood-paneled courtroom in rural Oklahoma in 2010, he faced one year in state prison. The judge had another plan.

“You need to learn a work ethic,” the judge told him. “I’m sending you to CAAIR.”

McGahey had heard of Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery. People called it “the Chicken Farm,” a rural retreat where defendants stayed for a year, got addiction treatment and learned to live more productive lives. Most were sent there by courts from across Oklahoma and neighboring states, part of the nationwide push to keep nonviolent offenders out of prison.

………

There wasn’t much substance abuse treatment at CAAIR. It was mostly factory work for one of America’s top poultry companies. If McGahey got hurt or worked too slowly, his bosses threatened him with prison.

And he worked for free. CAAIR pocketed the pay.

“It was a slave camp,” McGahey said. “I can’t believe the court sent me there.”

………

But in the rush to spare people from prison, some judges are steering defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
The programs promise freedom from addiction. Instead, they’ve turned thousands of men and women into indentured servants.

The beneficiaries of these programs span the country, from Fortune 500 companies to factories and local businesses. The defendants work at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Oklahoma, a construction firm in Alabama, a nursing home in North Carolina.
Perhaps no rehab better exemplifies this allegiance to big business than CAAIR. It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers. By forming a Christian rehab, they could supply plants with a cheap and captive labor force while helping men overcome their addictions.

………

Chicken processing plants are notoriously dangerous and understaffed. The hours are long, the pay is low and the conditions are brutal.

………

Those who were hurt and could no longer work often were kicked out of CAAIR and sent to prison, court records show. Most men worked through the pain, fearing the same fate.

………

Legal experts said forcing defendants to work for free might violate their constitutional rights. The 13th Amendment bans slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States, except as punishment for convicts. That’s why prison labor programs are legal. But many defendants sent to programs such as CAAIR have not yet been convicted of crimes, and some later have their cases dismissed.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Noah Zatz, a professor specializing in labor law at UCLA, said when presented with Reveal’s findings. “That’s a very strong 13th Amendment violation case.”

CAAIR has become indispensable to the criminal justice system, even though judges appear to be violating Oklahoma’s drug court law by using it in some cases, according to the law’s authors.

Drug courts in Oklahoma are required to send defendants for treatment at certified programs with trained counselors and state oversight. CAAIR is uncertified. Only one of its three counselors is licensed, and no state agency regulates it.

………

Men who were injured while at CAAIR rarely receive long-term help for their injuries. That’s because the program requires all men to sign a form stating that they are clients, not employees, and therefore have no right to workers’ comp. Reveal found that when men got hurt, CAAIR filed workers’ comp claims and kept the payouts. Injured men and their families never saw a dime.

………

“That’s fraudulent behavior,” said Eddie Walker, a former judge with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. He said workers’ comp payments are required to go to the injured worker. “What’s being done is clearly inappropriate.” 
Everyone involved in this atrocity should be prosecuted to the fullest extant of the law:  The people who run CAAIR, the judges who illegally send them there, the senior executives at poultry and pet food companies who knowingly used slave labor.

This is just f%$#ing evil.