In Closing: a few words on mass surveillance and encryption; a record warm temperature; antibiotics; an interesting idea (hell, I’d be happy to go back to plain old fashioned metal detectors and no effing Pre-Check); the truth about the Estate Tax and why George W Bush couldn’t find a single widow who lost the family business to pay it to sit in the balcony at the State of the Union Address in 8 years; and some cool places to visit.
For the longest time, it seemed like the only person truly trying to bring attention to the flaming bag of feces on America’s doorstep known as the Trans Pacific Partnership was DaveJohnson. Thank [deity] he’s so tenacious. Well, now he’s getting some traction. Here’s from today’s New York Times:
Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.
Let me translate that for you: a company doesn’t like a law. They can sue the city/county/state that made the law in a UN Tribunal! While the feds or a state might have the funds to fight that, your city or county is effectively bullied into compliance with corporate demands. Say goodbye to environmental regulations, fracking bans, efforts to curb corporate abuses. Kneel before your corporate overlords!
Yeah, I’m not a fan of the NYT’s 10-hits-per-month thing either. But I’m glad that a Serious News Source is pointing out reality.
In Closing: not sure how many of us have the patience to make rice this way; zombies and you; “His life story is so ridiculous that if they made a movie about it, nobody would believe it is true”; while I don’t agree with all of it, I have to admit that it works (and would work so much better with a public option!); one meeelion people have “get out of the security line free” cards (that’s one out of every 320 people in our nation, the rest of us better bathe and watch how we yawn!); the Supreme Court had to say “um yeah, you should follow the law.”
So, just to make sure you’re up to speed before we get rolling. Uber put together service in Nevada arguing that they’re just a technology service that happens to connect consumers to people who are willing to drive them in private cars for a fee but they’re so not a taxi service. It looks like a duck and quacks like a duck but somehow it isn’t a duck. Nevada courts said “What you’re doing is illegal. Stop it!” Some days later Uber said “Ok fine, we’ll stop breaking the law but we’ll bury you under a petition until you let us do whatever we want, bwahahahaha!”
Since then, Uber has had a couple of little assault problems in other states, which is unfortunately nothing new. In one country, Uber has decided they don’t give a darn about being banned. Yeah, way to show how much you want to follow the law by simply ignoring it.
Got that? Ok.
Today the Review Journal published an article that begins by saying all Nevada has to do is copy-paste some other state’s laws to make it all good. Later down, concessions are made that yeah, we kinda have to address the public safety issues. And sorry, the safety issues do go beyond what kind of insurance they are required to have and what kind of background checks drivers need. Keep in mind that Nevada requires background checks and fingerprints on hand for a whole bunch of professions (including real estate agents and casino workers), so I’m one of the people who thinks its reasonable for Uber drivers to give them up too. Most of the coverage I have seen doesn’t mention that in Nevada, taxi drivers have commercial drivers licenses and have to pass a DOT physical every couple of years. Further, taxis get regular professional maintenance, which is something you can’t count on from one of the independent contractors using private cars for Uber.
So the short version is that the only easy fix is for Uber to follow the same rules that taxi companies currently follow in Nevada. Anyone who believes otherwise doesn’t understand the problem (or doesn’t want to).
In Closing:Tardigrade; “Nobody’s paying attention anymore? Good! Scrap the plans to scale back mass surveillance”; translating Joni Ernst.
So, 2014 set a shameful record: most guns in carry-on bags seized by the TSA. Worse yet, over 80% of them were loaded. No shock that the rootinest-tootinest gun-totinest airports were DFW, Atlanta, and Sky Harbor. Not because they’re kinda southernish, but rather because they are big hub airports. For the record, it appears that there were 30 guns found at Vegas’s McCarran Airport, 9 unloaded and 21 loaded. It is unknown/unknowable how many weapons might have been missed by the TSA.
Now, who are these people who forget they’ve got a loaded gun in their carry-on bag? It’s not like guns not being allowed on airplanes is a new thing and people are just forgetting they have to check them now. It’s been the rule as long as I can remember, and I remember when Madonna was a hot new artist.
So if you’re in the habit of carrying a firearm, please do yourself and everybody else a favor: make sure it is secure so that it can’t be accidentally discharged, and lock it up at home before heading to the airport.
Doctor, Minnie Mouse, or Princess? Hmm, so many choices.
In Closing: hell froze over; die with a t on the end; to paraphrase, “I didn’t mean any ill intent, only that the military should rise up and put that ****** in his place!”; and a cool way to explore the periodic table.
The Executive Director of Google says that the NSA is going to break trust in the internet, and thereby break the very internet itself. I don’t think the government cares. The NSA will do whatever it likes, thankyouverymuch. Further, it will do what it likes in whatevercountry it chooses! Ed Snowden still believes that the whole thing will be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Only problem with that is that by his own admission, none of the felonies uncovered have been prosecuted. A case has to get to the Supremes before it can be heard there. Chalk it up to terror-phobia.
The Freakin Economy
This is why I like Elizabeth Warren: she knows what she’s talking about and she’s not afraid to say it loudly. In this case, she’s willing to say the system is rigged against Joe and Jane Average, in favor Wall Street — a group of institutions almost as untouchable as the freakin NSA. Gee, maybe that’s why Americans are flat-out broke. And for African-American or Hispanic-American families, median assets are worth less than a decent used car. By the way, notice that infographic doesn’t say net assets, just assets. Oversight, or does that not reflect debt owed on assets?
Still, the idea that we’re all being spied upon is relatively benign compared to what happens if you are actually suspected of any sort of crime. Yes, I do mean any sort, particularly if you happen to be a person of color. Militarization of our police means more SWAT teams, more no-knock warrants, more wondering if the home invader is government sponsored, and make no mistake it also means more dead cops.