Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 14th, 2016

Greg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, speaks about the election

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Via this site. Popovich says:

I’m still trying to formulate thoughts. It’s too early, I’m still sick to my stomach. Not basically because the Republicans won or anything but the disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.

And I live in that country where half the people ignored all of that to elect someone. That’s the scariest part for me. It’s got nothing to do with the environment, Obamacare, and all the other stuff. We live in a country that ignored all of those values that we would hold our kids accountable for. They’d be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said by Donald Trump in that campaign. I look at the evangelicals and wonder, ‘those values don’t mean anything to them?’

All those values to me are more important than anybody’s skill in business or anything else because it tells who we are and how we want to live and what kind of people we are. And that’s why I have great respect for people like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, John Kasich, who I disagree with on a lot of political things but they had enough fiber and respect for humanity and tolerance for all groups to say what they said about the man.

And that’s what worries me. I get it, of course we want to be successful. Everybody wants to be successful. It’s our country, we don’t want it to go down the drain. But any reasonable person would come to that conclusion, but it does not take away the fact that he used that fear mongering and all the comments from day one.

The race-baiting, with trying to make Barack Obama, our first black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living, with whom I’m living. And the fact that people can just gloss that over and start talking about the transition team and we’re all going to be kumbaya now and try to make the country good without talking about any of those things.

And now we see that he’s already backing off about immigration, about Obamacare and other things. So was it a big fake? Which makes you feel it’s even more disgusting and cynical, that somebody would use that to get the base that fired up to get elected. And what gets lost in the process is African-Americans and Hispanics and women and the gay population. Not to mention the eighth-grade developmental stage exhibited by him when he made fun of the handicapped person. I mean, come on, that’s what a seventh/eighth-grade bully does. And he was elected President of the United States. We would have scolded our kids, we would have had discussions and talked until we were blue in the face trying to get them to understand these things. And he is in charge of this country. That’s disgusting.

We didn’t make this stuff up. He’s angry at the media because they reported what he said and how he acted. That’s ironic to me. It just makes no sense. That’s my real fear and that’s what gives me so much pause and makes me feel so badly. That the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that’s necessary to understand other group’s situations. I’m a rich white guy and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, a Hispanic or a handicapped person — how disenfranchised they might feel. And for anyone in those groups who voted for him it’s just beyond my comprehension how they ignore all of that. And so my final conclusion is, my big fear is, we are Rome.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Election

Facebook’s Fight Against Fake News Was Undercut by Fear of Conservative Backlash

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I don’t use Facebook as a news source (except for family news) but apparently some do, and Facebook takes it as a responsibility to allow fake-news sites to use Facebook to spread their hoax-news. (That is judging based on Facebook’s actions, not its words.)

Michael Nunez reports at Gizmodo:

It’s no secret that Facebook has a fake news problem. Critics have accused the social network of allowing false and hoax news stories to run rampant, with some suggesting that Facebook contributed to Donald Trump’s election by letting hyper-partisan websites spread false and misleading information. Mark Zuckerberg has addressed the issue twice since Election Day, most notably in a carefully worded statement that reads: “Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99 percent of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics.”

Still, it’s hard to visit Facebook without seeing phony headlines like “FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide” or “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement” promoted by no-name news sites like the Denver Guardian and Ending The Fed.

Gizmodo has learned that the company is, in fact, concerned about the issue, and has been having a high-level internal debate since May about how the network approaches its role as the largest news distributor in the US. The debate includes questions over whether the social network has a duty to prevent misinformation from spreading to the 44 percent of Americans who get their news from the social network.

According to two sources with direct knowledge of the company’s decision-making, Facebook executives conducted a wide-ranging review of products and policies earlier this year, with the goal of eliminating any appearance of political bias. One source said high-ranking officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds. According to the source, the update was shelved and never released to the public. It’s unclear if the update had other deficiencies that caused it to be scrubbed.

“They absolutely have the tools to shut down fake news,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of retribution from the company. The source added, “there was a lot of fear about upsetting conservatives after Trending Topics,” and that “a lot of product decisions got caught up in that.”

In an emailed statement, Facebook did not answer Gizmodo’s direct questions about whether the company built a News Feed update that was capable of identifying fake or hoax news stories, nor whether such an update would disproportionately impact right-wing or conservative-leaning sites. Instead, Facebook said it “did not build and withhold any News Feed changes based on their potential impact on any one political party.” The full statement:

We did not build and withhold any News Feed changes based on their potential impact on any one political party. We always work to make News Feed more meaningful and informative, and that includes examining the quality and accuracy of items shared, such as clickbait, spam and hoaxes. Mark himself said, “I want to do everything I can to make sure our teams uphold the integrity of our products.” This includes continuously reviewing updates to make sure we are not exhibiting unconscious bias.

A New York Times report published Saturday cited conversations with current Facebook employees and stated that “The Trending Topics episode paralyzed Facebook’s willingness to make any serious changes to its products that might compromise the perception of its objectivity.” Our sources echoed the same sentiment, with one saying Facebook had an “internal culture of fear” following the Trending Topics episode.

The sources are referring to a controversy that started in May, when Gizmodo published a story in which former Facebook workers revealed that the trending news team was run by human “curators” and guided by their editorial judgments, rather than populated by an algorithm, as the company had earlier claimed. One former curator said that they routinely observed colleagues suppressing stories on conservative topics. Facebook denied the allegations, then later fired its entire trending news team. The layoffs were followed by several high-profile blunders, in which the company allowed fake news stories (or hoaxes) to trend on the website. One such story said that Fox News fired Megyn Kelly for being “a closet liberal who actually wants Hillary to win.”

After Gizmodo’s stories were published, Facebook vehemently fought . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Bottom line: Don’t use Facebook as a news site since they allow hoaxes to parade as news. Go to an actual news site, one that takes its reponsibilities seriously and does fact-checking.

 

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Business, Media, Technology

Chuck Schumer: The Worst Possible Democratic Leader at the Worst Possible Time

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I’ve long lost all respect for Chuck Schumer. An example: when he was running the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, he refused to give any funds to the Democratic candidate for US Senator in Connecticut because Joe Lieberman, who had lost the primary, was running as an independent. The very purpose of the DSCC was to support the campaigns of those running as Democrats for the US Senate, but Schumer would have none of that. What a jerk. And he’s totally in the pocket of Wall Street.

Jon Schwarz writes in The Intercept:

When Barack Obama leaves the White House, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer will almost certainly be elected Senate minority leader — and therefore become the highest ranking Democratic official in America.

That’s a terrible roll of the dice for Democrats, because Schumer might as well have been grown in a lab to be exactly the wrong face for opposition to Donald Trump:

  • Schumer, who’s just about to turn 66, grew up in Brooklyn and went to the same high school as Bernie Sanders. Then their lives diverged: Schumer, the smartiest of the smartypants, got a perfect score on the SATs and then went to Harvard and Harvard Law School. He was elected to the New York State Assembly at 23, the U.S. Congress at 29, and the U.S. Senate at 47. He’s never had any adult job outside elected office.
  • He possesses the same impressive political acumen as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, sagely explaining “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”
  • Schumer’s done more than anyone except Bill and Hillary Clinton to intertwine Wall Street and the Democratic Party. He raises millions and millions of dollars from the finance industry, both for himself and for other Democrats. In return, he voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 and voted to bail out Wall Street in 2008. In between, he slashed fees paid by banks to the Securities and Exchange Commission to pay for regulatory enforcement, and eviscerated congressional efforts to crack down on rating agencies.
  • Schumer has long been the Democrats’ point man in efforts to craft a bipartisan deal to slash taxes on multinational corporations.
  • Schumer voted for the Patriot Act in 2001, and sponsored its predecessor, the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. During a Senate hearing, Schumer explained that “it’s easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when you’re in the foxhole, it’s a very different deal.” In certain cases, he said, “most senators” would say “do what you have to do.” Schumer also defended the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslims across the region, which Trump has cited as a national model.
  • In October 2002, Schumer voted for the Iraq War by giving George W. Bush authority to invade. In a speech explaining his vote, Schumer warned of Iraq’s imaginary yet “vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.”
  • Schumer voted against Barack Obama’s deal to limit Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and potentially develop a nuclear weapons program.
  • Perhaps worst of all, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 2:34 pm

LAPD will not help deport immigrants under Trump, chief says

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Interesting development reported in the LA Times.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 2:26 pm

The terrifying prospect of an Attorney General Giuliani

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Radley Balko has an interesting column, but basically we are helpless: the Executive branch is going to come under Trump’s control and the GOP House and GOP Senate will support him. Still, we live here, so the decisions they make will impact us:

Among the names being tossed around for Donald Trump’s attorney general is Rudy Giuliani, a politician that the journalist Jimmy Breslin once called “a small man in search of a balcony.” Of course, Giuliani’s name isn’t a surprise. The former New York mayor — who once said that “freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do” — has been a Trump adviser and surrogate for months. He’s actively lobbying for the Justice Department post, but he has also been mentioned as a possibility to head up the Department of Homeland Security.

It seems likely that Trump’s election is the end of criminal-justice reform at the federal level. Given his campaign rhetoric, and Trump’s endorsement by nearly every law enforcement agency in the country, I doubt we’ll see any more damning reports on police abuse from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. But Giuliani at Justice is an especially troubling proposition. This is a man whose career has been marked by prosecutorial excesses, knee-jerk defenses of abusive cops and an affinity for using the power of his political offices to get vengeance on his enemies.

Let’s look first at his tenure as the mayor of New York. Giuliani has always been a stalwart defender of abusive cops. In 2000, two undercover New York Police Department detectives shot and killed 26-year-old Patrick Dorismond. The detectives asked Dorismond if he knew where they could find some pot. Dorismond, no pot dealer, was offended at the question, and a scuffle broke out. One of the officers pulled a gun. The detectives claim Dorismond tried to grab it. After the incident, Giuliani released Dorismond’s juvenile record, which by law was supposed to remain sealed. Citing Dorismond’s record as a minor, Giuliani said the dead man was “no altar boy.” (Actually, Dorismond had been an altar boy.) The city eventually paid $2.25 million to Dorismond’s family. The detective was cleared. Giuliani defended the release of Dorismond’s juvenile records by claiming the man had no right to privacy after death. Giuliani also defended the officers who shot Amadou Diallo 19 times after he pulled a wallet out of his jacket to show them his ID.

Giuliani of course was also the mayoral architect of “Stop & Frisk,” and still widely touts its success, despite the fact that murders in New York have continued to decline since the NYPD largely stopped the practice. Giuliani also stepped up street-level enforcement of the drug laws, often with the use of SWAT tactics and no-knock raids. In 1990s New York, raid teams kicked down doors left and right, often based on little more than tips from shady informants. Despite increasing complaints and media reports of brutality, excessive force, and raids on innocent people and families throughout the decade, the Giuliani administration did nothing. By the time Alberta Spruill — an innocent, 57-year-old woman — was killed in a mistaken raid in 2003, the NYPD was conducting 450 such raids per month. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said after Spruill’s death that about 10 percent were on the wrong address. That 45 or so New York residences were wrongly raided each month was apparently an acceptable figure. But Kelly also conceded that the number could be higher, because the department didn’t really keep track of how often they mistakenly waged volatile terrifying raids on innocent people. (Today, the NYPD is one of the more restrained big-city police departments when it comes to such tactics, although there are still some problems.)

Under President Obama, at least some parts of the Justice Department tried to encourage less militaristic, less reactionary, more community-oriented policing. That will likely end no matter whom Trump puts at DOJ. But it would certainly end under Giuliani.

Giuliani  the mayor was also hostile to the First Amendment. He waged war on a Brooklyn art museum because it displayed a painting he found offensive. He later tried to assemble a “decency task force” to seek out art at public museums for possible censorship. Giuliani often boasts of his crackdowns on pornography. Earlier this year, Trump vowed to do the same. (He has also added famous anti-porn crusader Ed Meese to his transition team.) Should he head up the Justice Department, we can probably expect Giuliani to invest considerable resources toward eradicating Internet pornography. That will never happen, of course. But they could certainly make examples of a lot of people. Giuliani also used zoning laws and quality-of-life ordinances to crack down on protests, street vendors and advertisements he found distasteful (or, in many cases, were critical of him). He took New York magazine to court (and lost) over a bus ad the magazine took out because it mentioned his name.

In giving Giuliani a lifetime “muzzle award” for his hostility to free speech, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression wrote, . . .

Continue reading.

And do click the link and keep reading. There’s a lot more, and it will be important.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 1:15 pm

Harsher Security Tactics? Obama Left Door Ajar, and Donald Trump Is Knocking

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Beginning with George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks, the Federal government has embraced tough (and sometimes illegal) security measures. Obama did not fix it. Charlie Savage reports in the NY Times:

As a presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump vowed to refill the cells of the Guantánamo Bay prison and said American terrorism suspects should be sent there for military prosecution. He called for targeting mosques for surveillance, escalating airstrikes aimed at terrorists and taking out their civilian family members, and bringing backwaterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse” — not only because “torture works,” but because even “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway.”

It is hard to know how much of this stark vision for throwing off constraints on the exercise of national security power was merely tough campaign talk. But if the Trump administration follows through on such ideas, it will find some assistance in a surprising source: President Obama’s have-it-both-ways approach to curbing what he saw as overreaching in the war on terrorism.

Over and over, Mr. Obama has imposed limits on his use of such powers but has not closed the door on them — a flexible approach premised on the idea that he and his successors could be trusted to use them prudently. Mr. Trump can now sweep away those limits and open the throttle on policies that Mr. Obama endorsed as lawful and legitimate for sparing use, like targeted killings in drone strikes and the use of indefinite detention and military tribunals for terrorism suspects.

Two decisions by Mr. Obama in 2009 set the tone for his leave-it-on-the-table approach. They involved whether to keep indefinite wartime detentions without trial and to continue using military commission prosecutions — if not at the Guantánamo prison, which he had resolved to close, then at a replacement wartime prison.

Told that several dozen detainees could not be tried for any crime but would be particularly risky to release, and that a handful might be prosecutable only under the looser rules governing evidence in a military commission, Mr. Obama decided that the responsible policy was to keep both the tribunals and the indefinite detentions available.

The president refused to use either power on newly captured terrorism suspects, instead prosecuting them in civilian court. But by leaving the options open, he helped normalize them and left them on a firmer legal basis.

Mr. Obama followed a similar course with several national security practices that became controversial during his first term. After his use of drones to kill terrorism suspects away from war zones led to mounting concerns over civilian casualties and other matters, he issued a “presidential policy guidance” in May 2013 that set stricter limits. They included a requirement that the target pose a threat to Americans — not just to American interests — and that there would be near certainty of no bystander deaths.

But the Obama administration also successfully fought in court to establishthat judges would not review the legality of such killing operations, even if an American citizen was the target. Mr. Trump — who has said he would “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” beyond what Mr. Obama is doing, and go after civilian relatives of terrorists, prevailing over any military commanders who balked — could scrap the internal limits while invoking those precedents to shield his acts from judicial review.

Similarly, after a surge of criminal prosecutions against people who leaked secret information to the news media and bipartisan outrage at aggressive investigative tactics targeting journalists, the Obama Justice Department issued new guidelines for leak investigations intended to make it harder for investigators to subpoena reporters’ testimony or phone records. It also decided not to force a reporter for The New York Times to testify in a leak trial or face prison for contempt.

But the Obama administration also successfully fought in court to establish that the First Amendment offers no protection to journalists whom the executive branch chooses to subpoena to testify against confidential sources. Mr. Trump, who has proposed changing libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations, could abandon the Obama-era internal restraints and invoke the Obama-era court precedent to adopt more aggressive policies in leak investigations.

Geoffrey R. Stone, a University of Chicago law professor who is a friend and adviser to Mr. Obama, defended the president’s approach. He said that after 2010, when Republicans took over the House, internal executive branch restraints were the only option because Congress was not going to enact legislation limiting national security powers.

He also said that even if Mr. Obama had gotten rid of indefinite detention or military tribunals, Mr. Trump could have brought them back.

“Short of legislation that restricts things, there is not much a president could do in these matters to restrain a successor,” Professor Stone said.

Still, Bruce Ackerman, a Yale University law professor who is helping with a lawsuit alleging that Mr. Obama is waging an illegal war against the Islamic State because Congress never specifically authorized it, said Mr. Obama had contributed to the growth of executive powers that Mr. Trump would inherit. That includes “the fundamental institutional legacy” of relying on executive branch lawyers to produce creative legal opinions clearing the way for preferred policies, Professor Ackerman said.

The two areas where Mr. Obama broke most cleanly with Bush-era practices were torture and the indefinite military detention of Americans and other terrorism suspects arrested on domestic soil. Mr. Obama issued an executive order requiring interrogators to use only techniques approved in the Army Field Manual, and he later signed a bill codifying that rule into statute. He also resisted repeated calls by Republicans to put newly captured terrorism suspects arrested in the United States into Guantánamo-style military detention.

But the Obama administration also ruled out criminal investigations into Bush-era officials for involvement in torture practices that the Justice Department had blessed as legal under a sweeping theory that the commander in chief could not be bound by anti-torture laws.

And the Obama administration fought lawsuits brought by Jose Padilla, an American terrorism suspect who had been imprisoned and interrogated as an “enemy combatant.” The administration successfully argued that courts should dismiss the litigation without ruling on whether his treatment had been lawful, preventing any clear repudiation of the Bush-era legal theory.

A spokesman for Mr. Obama’s National Security Council declined to comment. But Gregory B. Craig, who was Mr. Obama’s first White House counsel and participated in early policy deliberations about what to do about Guantánamo-style policies, said that in 2009, the president “was not thinking about 10 years out, but about 10 days out.” And he especially did not want to send signals to Republicans that he was a zealot or out for revenge, Mr. Craig said.

Mr. Obama, Mr. Craig said, “was thinking about working with Republicans and developing postpartisan relations on Guantánamo-related national security issues, not about what was going to happen a decade later.” . . .

Continue reading.

So Trump has ready access to a big drawer of sharp tools to use in various ways.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 11:38 am

Your Government Wants to Militarize Social Media to Influence Your Beliefs

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Nafeez Ahmed writes in Motherboard:

A global conference of senior military and intelligence officials taking place in London this week reveals how governments increasingly view social media as “a new front in warfare” and a tool for the Armed Forces.

The overriding theme of the event is the need to exploit social media as a source of intelligence on civilian populations and enemies; as well as a propaganda medium to influence public opinion.

A report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last month revealed how a CIA-funded tool, Geofeedia, was already being used by police to conduct surveillance of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to monitor activists and protesters.

Although Facebook and Twitter both quickly revoked Geofeedia’s access to their social feeds, the conference proves that social media surveillance remains a rapidly growing industry with no regulatory oversight. And its biggest customers are our own governments.

The event, the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector, is sponsored by the Thales Group, the tenth largest defense company in the world, which is partially owned by the French government.

Participants in the conference—chaired by Steven Mehringer, Head of Communication Services at NATO—will include military and intelligence leaders from around the world, especially “social media experts from across the armed forces and defense industry.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 11:31 am

Trump decides the environment is not so important as corporate profits…

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Sharon Lerner reports in The Intercept:

Environmentalists who were hoping that somehow a Donald Trump presidency wouldn’t be as catastrophic as they feared had those hopes dashed on Friday, when the president-elect announced Myron Ebell as his choice to oversee the transition at the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell, head of both the right wing think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Cooler Heads Coalition, has spent most of his career tossing out industry-funded nonsense bombs about climate change.

A non-scientist whose funders have included ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and coal giant Murray Energy Corporation, Ebell has been a consistent taunter of both scientists and environmentalists. As a talking head on TV news, he has for years offered false balance on climate change in the form of views so far outside of the mainstream as to be downright bizarre. For Ebell, Al Gore is “an extremist” who “lives in a fantasy world,” the Pope’s encyclical on climate change is “diatribe against modern industrial civilization,” and current climate patterns indicate an imminent ice age rather than a warming planet.

Since we were already falling short of our climate goalsbefore the election, and since the potential consequences of inaction may be irreversible, Ebell’s leadership in this realm seems to pose the gravest danger. He has already given much thought to how to get out of the Paris Agreement, the global treaty the U.S. signed in September, which is aimed at holding the increase in global temperature rise below two degrees.

There are several ways a Trump administration could do so. While Secretary of State John Kerry is scrambling to get the treaty implemented before President Obama leaves office, Trump is already signaling that he may try to withdraw from the global agreement in his first year, a move that is within his power and could increase the likelihood that other countries would also shirk their obligations.

Also caught in Trump’s crosshairs is the Clean Power Plan, the rules limiting carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, which his administration could simply fail to enforce. The administration could also resurrect the Keystone XL pipeline and expand drilling on public land.

But there is much more to the EPA than the protection of the climate. And Ebell also runs a pro-chemical industry front group from the website saferchemicalpolicy.org, where you can read about the “life-enhancing value of chemicals” and the absurd idea that man-made toxic chemicals couldn’t possibly cause cancer because the average human lifespan has increased since 1950.

Indeed, Ebell’s hostility seems to extend to all scientific fact and the entire cause of environmentalism, and he will have a range of opportunities to inflict harm on human health and the environment. Still, certain protections of the earth, water, and land will be harder for him to reverse than others.

Here is a brief overview of some of the damage Trump and Ebell can — and can’t — inflict while they control the EPA.

Surrendering to Industry on Rules

Among the most vulnerable of the EPA’s efforts are rules that industry has already attacked through the legal system and are now wending their way through the courts. In any of these suits, the EPA could simply stop defending their rules. Or, worse still, they could reissue them so that they are friendlier to industry and less protective of people and the environment. Some of the most consequential of these rules tied up in ongoing suits are: . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more at the link. Somewhat depressing if you like the idea of preserving the environment, pretty exciting if your interest is in making corporations even more profitable.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 11:09 am

Scorecard for the White Working Class to Judge Trump’s Presidency

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Kevin Drum has a post that suggests some good measures that Trump supporters (and others) can use to judge Trump’s performance as President:

Here’s my top ten list of things to watch:

  1. Miles of wall built on the southern border. (Current number: 0)
  2. Number of manufacturing jobs. (Current number: about 12 million)
  3. Population of illegal immigrants in the United States. (Current number: about 11 million in 2014)
  4. Total federal spending on infrastructure (First term of Obama administration: about $400 billion)
  5. Trade deficit. (Current number: $500 billion in 2015)
  6. U6 unemployment rate. (Current number: 9.7 percent)
  7. Change in net imports from Mexico due to renegotiating NAFTA. (Current number: $60 billion in 2015)
  8. Change in net imports from China due to punitive tariffs etc. (Current number: $367 billion in 2015)
  9. Tax reductions for working class. (Baseline: 7.9 percent of income for all federal taxes for the second income quintile)
  10. Tax reductions for the wealthy. (Baseline: 25.8 percent of income for all federal taxes for the top quintile)

Some of these will need to be updated to 2016 numbers when they’re available, but this gives you a rough idea of where Trump is starting from.

It will be interesting to take a look at these next Thanksgiving. To see how thankful we are.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 11:04 am

Trader Joe’s shaving kit

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A good review of a $10 kit from TJ’s: soap, brush, and aftershave balm.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 10:37 am

Posted in Shaving

Valerie Aurora: “Actions I have taken to prepare for the Trump administration”

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Valerie Aurora posts a list (and it would be good to read her entire post):

. . . here are the things I have already done:

  • Asked my loved ones to install Signal (and all of them did)
  • Started collecting information on my emigration options from friends
  • Made a spreadsheet listing signs helping me decide whether the fascist regime is coming or not, with weights
  • Made an agreement with a loved one about exactly what signs will mean it’s time to leave the U.S.
  • Made an appointment to talk to my immigration (emigration?) lawyer this week
  • Called my loved ones and made sure they either had passports or promised to get them this week (and offered them money to expedite)
  • Checked to see how long it will take to cash out my 401(k) (it’s already in money market funds or I would have moved it to that too)
  • Advised a loved one to go ahead with that house sale they were planning for later in 2017
  • Made lists of the most influential progressive people I know and thought about ways to connect them with each other to take action

Earlier in the post:

. . . This morning the news broke that Trump made the first post-election announcement confirming he will make mass deportations, outlining exactly which people he will deport and saying that he will make a “determination” about which other people he will deport after that. No one can dismiss this as “election talk” or campaign promises he will renege on when he gets into often.

Just in case you aren’t already deeply frightened by this news: Historically mass deportations are a very strong predictor of mass deaths: mass deportations are difficult to execute because other countries don’t want your refugees, so you put them in camps, which get full, and then you start killing the people in the camps. Mass deportations also require a volunteer paramilitary force that very quickly erodes the rule of law and human rights. . .

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 10:21 am

Vie-Long and Meißner Tremonia’s Strong ‘n Scottish with Alt-Eleven aftershave balm

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SOTD 2016-11-14

My Vie-Long horsehair shaving brush easily worked up a terrific lather from Meißner Tremonia’s Strong ‘n Scottish shaving soap, which includes ingredients reminiscent of Scotland, such as Scotch whisky and lanolin:

Stearic Acid, Cocos Nucifera oil*, Whisky, Aqua, Potassium Hydroxide, Orbignya Oleifera oil*, Sodium Hydroxide, Lanolin, Glycerin, Red Clay, Cedrus Deodora oil, Talc, Citric Acid, Simmondsia chinensis oil*, Juniperus oxycedrus wood tar, Maris sal.

*Bio – Qualität

It’s a soap with a strong fragrance, which might not be for everyone, but I like it. It has clay, you’ll note, so I did add a little water once as I loaded.

The iKon 102 remains a strong favorite: three passes, no nicks, comfortable feel, totally smooth result.

A small dot of Phoenix Artisan Alt-Eleven aftershave balm to finish the shave. This balm, recommended to me by Eddie of Australia, is extremely nice in fragrance and in effect, quickly drying and leaving my skin feeling (and smelling) very nice indeed. It’s mentholated, but lightly—and that’s the way I like it. (Uh-huh.) The ingredients:

Organic Aloe Juice, Organic Coconut Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Kukui Oil, Organic Argan Oil, Witch Hazel, Vitamin E, Phenoxyethanol, Avocado Oil, Palm Stearic Acid, Jojoba Wax, Lecithin, Meadowfoam, Xanthan Gum, Willow Bark Extract, Prickly Pear Oil, Calendula, Oat Extract, Neem Oil, Rosemary Extract, Tetrasodium EDTA, Cape Aloe, Olive Oil, Citric Acid, Essential & Fragrance Oils

I really like the fragrance (described at the link) to the extent that I’m thinking of buying the Alt-Eleven aftershave splash and cologne. There’s also an alcohol-free aftershave splash.

Written by Leisureguy

14 November 2016 at 8:41 am

Posted in Shaving

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