Lazy Caturday Reads
Posted: May 21, 2022 Filed under: just because
By Ophelia Redpath, British artist
Just a short time ago, I knew almost nothing about Tesla owner Elon Musk; and now I wish I’d never even heard his name. This man is another Donald Trump–narcissistic, childish, completely self-involved, and devoid of empathy. What. An. Asshole.
Obviously, Musk’s bid to buy Twitter was a desperate ploy for attention. He’s gotten it, but much of the attention has been negative. Now both Tesla and Twitter stock are losing value and he has been credibly accused of sexual harassment. According to Business Insider, Musk exposed himself to a Space X flight attendant and asked her to perform a sex act, then paid her $250K for her silence when she refused. Even more shocking, the BI story said that Space X flight attendants were required to provide massages to Musk and other passengers and it was suggested that they get professional massage training and pay for it themselves. On top of that, yesterday Musk began baselessly attacking Hillary Clinton.
Jack Ewing at The New York Times: Tesla’s Aura Dims as Its Plunging Stock Highlights the Risks It Faces.
Investors are reassessing the premise that justified Tesla’s astronomical stock price and made its founder, Elon Musk, the richest person in the world.
Tesla’s $1 trillion valuation made sense only if investors believed the electric car company was on a path to dominate the auto industry the way Apple rules smartphones or Amazon commands online retailing.
But Tesla’s shares have declined more than 40 percent since April 4 — a much steeper fall than the broad market, vaporizing more than $400 billion in stock market value. And the tumble has called attention to the risks that the company faces. These include increasing competition, a dearth of new products, lawsuits accusing the company of racial discrimination and significant production problems at Tesla’s factory in Shanghai, which it uses to supply Asia and Europe.
Mr. Musk has not helped the stock price by turning his bid to buy Twitter into a financial soap opera. His antics have reinforced the perception that Tesla lacks an independent board of directors that could stop him from doing things that might damage the company’s business and brand.
“From a corporate good governance perspective Tesla has a lot of red flags,” said Andrew Poreda, a senior analyst who specializes in socially responsible investing at Sage Advisory Services, an investment firm in Austin, Texas. “There are almost no checks and balances.”
Even longtime Tesla optimists are having doubts. Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, has been one of the most steadfast believers in Tesla on Wall Street. But on Thursday, Wedbush lowered its target price for Tesla — the firm’s estimate of the shares’ fair market value based on future earnings — to $1,000 from $1,400. Mr. Ives cited Tesla’s problems in China, where lockdowns have throttled the supply of crucial parts and materials and demand for cars.
Dick and Puffin, by Nan Youngman, 1931, British artist
This is from Business Insider, via Yahoo Finance: 3 years after SpaceX is said to have paid a former employee $250,000 over Elon Musk’s sexual misconduct, women at Musk’s companies continue to complain about inappropriate behavior.
Even after SpaceX paid $250,000 in 2018 to a contract worker flight attendant so that she wouldn’t sue its billionaire chief Elon Musk over sexual misconduct….three years since that settlement, female employees continue to raise sexual harassment issues at Musk’s companies, SpaceX and Tesla.
“In the past year alone, I have had to bring multiple different incidents of sexism to HR,” former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak said in an essay published in December on Lioness. Kosak said she started as an intern in 2017 and became an engineer in 2019.
But “nothing was done” after she flagged these incidents to HR, she said. The company promised mandatory training about sexual harassment, but “matters of this nature were too private to openly discuss with the perpetrators,” according to Kosak.
“Ultimately, the stress that had mounted from my years of working at SpaceX broke my health down in ways I had never previously experienced,” said Kosak, and she left the company in late November….
SpaceX is not the only company founded by Musk that faced allegations of sexual misconduct and harsh work conditions.
At Tesla, at least 24 women have sued the carmaker in the past five years, alleging that they were sexually harassed, groped, or even physically assaulted, according to an Insider report in March. Some said they were denied pay raises and promotions, the article added.
In late 2021 alone, Tesla was hit by at least eight lawsuits alleging sexual harassment at the company by female workers, according to reports from Insider and The Washington Post.
Painting by Jiří Petr
Six women filed individual lawsuits on December 14 alleging that Tesla fostered a culture of sexual harassment at its factories, The Post reported.
A few days prior, on December 8, an employee alleged that the carmaker failed to stop “a pattern of continuous and pervasive” sexual harassment and retaliating against her at its Fremont factory, Insider reported.
And in November, a worker sued the company for operating like a “frat house” by subjecting female employees to “rampant sexual harassment.”
Perhaps in response to the NYT report yesterday or knowledge of the upcoming sexual harassment story, Musk posted a Trumpian tweet suggesting he planned to begin suing people who dared to insult him. Raw Story: ‘There will be blood’: Elon Musk seeks to hire ‘hardcore streetfighters’ as Tesla stock tanks.
“Tesla is building a hardcore litigation department where we directly initiate & execute lawsuits. The team will report directly to me,” Musk posted to Twitter, which he is seeking to acquire.
He included an email address and asked people to “please send 3 to 5 bullet points describing evidence of exceptional ability.”
“Looking for hardcore streetfighters, not white-shoe lawyers like Perkins or Cooley who thrive on corruption,” he explained.
“There will be blood,” the billionaire added ominously.
Musk was roundly mocked on Twitter for this; some tweeters suggested Musk had tried to hire high-profile attorneys who weren’t interested in his childish games. Kind of like Trump–I wonder if Musk pays his legal bills?
And then there’s this from psychologist John Gartner:
Yesterday, Musk actually replied approvingly to a tweet by Jim Jordan and attacked Hillary Clinton for a tweet she sent in 2016. The right wingers are trying to lock Hillary up again because she approved giving information to a journalist about a possible connection between the Trump organization and Alpha Bank. The last I heard, giving a tip to a reporter is not a crime.
Business Insider: Elon Musk called out Twitter over 2016 Hillary Clinton tweet linking the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.
Elon Musk has accused Twitter of allowing “disinformation” on its platform by failing to act on a 2016 tweet by Hillary Clinton that linked the Trump Organization to a Russian state-owned bank.
Musk, who is in the process of buying Twitter, was prompted by a user who said they had reported the tweet — a screengrab of a statement from her policy adviser in response to a Slate article — to “the powers that be” at the social media giant for “misleading disinformation.”
Musk replied: “You are absolutely correct. That tweet is a Clinton campaign hoax for which their campaign lawyer is undergoing a criminal trial.” Musk linked to a BBC article from May 18 about a trial in which Michael Sussmann, Clinton’s lawyer, has been accused of trying to “manipulate” the FBI in the run-up to the 2016 election.
There’s more stupid stuff at the link if you’re interested. How is this guy any different from Trump?
One more Musk/Trump-related story from The Washington Post: Oracle’s Larry Ellison joined Nov. 2020 call about contesting Trump’s loss.
Larry Ellison, the billionaire co-founder and chairman of the software company Oracle and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call shortly after the 2020 election that focused on strategies for contesting the legitimacy of the vote, according to court documents and a participant.
Painting by Sasha Bassari
The Nov. 14 call included Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.); Fox News host Sean Hannity; Jay Sekulow, an attorney for President Donald Trump; and James Bopp Jr., an attorney for True the Vote, a Texas-based nonprofit that has promoted disputed claims of widespread voter fraud.
Ellison’s participation illustrates a previously unknown dimension in the multifaceted campaign to challenge Trump’s loss, an effort still coming into focus more than 18 months later. It is the first known example of a technology industry titan joining powerful figures in conservative politics, media and law to strategize about Trump’s post-loss options and confer with an activist group that had already filed four lawsuits seeking to uncover evidence of illegal voting….
Details of the November 2020 call and questions about Ellison’s role in it were revealed in new filings made in litigation brought against True the Vote and its representatives by Fair Fight, a political action committee associated with the voting rights organization founded by Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
“Jim was on a call this evening with Jay Sekulow, Lindsey O. Graham, Sean Hannity, and Larry Ellison,” True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, wrote to a donor on the night of the call, referring to Bopp, her organization’s lawyer. “He explained the work we were doing and they asked for a preliminary report asap, to be used to rally their troops internally, so that’s what I’m working on now.”
Ellison’s participation in the call was confirmed by a participant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private matters. This person said Ellison, as a technology executive, may have been enlisted to assess claims about voting machines made by Sidney Powell, a onetime member of Trump’s legal team. And the person said the GOP megadonor was probably looped in by Graham, as part of a discussion about whether the Trump campaign had assembled an effective legal team.
Did Ellison urge Musk to buy Twitter to either help Trump get his account back or help right-wingers get control of the platform in preparation for 2024?
In other stupid right-wing news, check out this story at NBC News: Laws restricting lessons on racism are making it hard for teachers to discuss the massacre in Buffalo.
Two days after a white gunman opened fire and killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store, teacher Elizabeth Close began her high school ethnic studies class in Austin, Texas, by reminding her students about a new state law that requires her to provide balanced perspectives on “widely debated and currently controversial issues.”
Oscar Wilde, by Theo Daamen
Close told her students that under the law, one of several recently implemented across the country that limit the ways teachers can discuss racism and current events, she was obligated to inform them that there’s more than one way to view Saturday’s mass shooting.
On one hand, she explained that authorities are investigating the killings as a racially motivated hate crime carried out by an 18-year-old who reportedly wrote of his belief in a conspiracy theory that white Americans are being “replaced” by people of color through immigration, interracial marriage and integration.
“But I’m also supposed to tell you that that’s just one perspective,” Close recalled telling her students. “Another perspective is that this young man was out defending the world — or his kind — from being taken over.”
Close waited for her comment to fully register with her students, then added: “If you guys want to know why I’m thinking about quitting at the end of the year, it’s because of these types of policies — the fact that I have to have this conversation with you.”
I might as well stick with the stupid right-wingers theme. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy is getting a lot of attention for a racist remark about high rates of deaths of women in childbirth. Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy: Our Maternal Death Rates Are Only Bad If You Count Black Women.
Louisiana, which has a…trigger law that will go into effect upon Roe being reversed, maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the nation. But according to GOP senator Bill Cassidy, the rate at which women die during pregnancy or shortly after is not as bad as it seems—if you subtract the deaths of Black women, which apparently don’t count.
In an interview with Politico, the following words came out of Cassidy’s mouth: “About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear. Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be. For whatever reason, people of color have a higher incidence of maternal mortality.” There’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the idea that Cassidy—who wants to defund Planned Parenthood is all, Yes, on its face, our maternal mortality rates are abysmal, but if you only count white women, they’re not that bad!
Then there’s the phrase “for whatever reason.” In fact, there is one very big reason in particular— perhaps you can take a guess? “It’s no mystery why maternal mortality rates are so high among Black women,” Michelle Williams, the dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health said in response. “They are high because of the devastating impacts of structural racism and individual bias.”
By Ophelia Redpath
One more from The Daily Dot about the right-wing Georgia rep who was asked by the January 6 committee to explain what he was doing showing a group of people around the Capitol building on January 5: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Loudermilk gave a radio interview that blows up his denials about hosting Jan. 6 protesters in his office.
The Daily Dot has obtained a radio interview from Jan. 6, 2021, from WBHF in Cartersville, Georgia, in which Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) says, “about a dozen” people were present in his congressional office in Washington, D.C. the day before the Capitol riot.
Yesterday, Loudermilk said in a statement that “a constituent family” visited him the day before the Capitol riot. That is an updated version of a previous statement by Republicans on the Committee on House Administration—which Loudermilk is a member of—that originally stated “there were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” given by him or other Republicans in advance of the Capitol riot.
But in the interview—given as the riot was winding down—Loudermilk made it clear that he met with people who were planning to protest on Jan. 6, and that he discussed how they wanted to be in the crowd that day to protest the results of the 2020 election.
Yesterday, the January 6th Select Committee sent a letter to Loudermilk, requesting his testimony. In the letter, they noted that “Republicans on the Committee on House Administration … claimed to have reviewed security footage from the days preceding January 6th and determined that ‘[t]here were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.’ However, the Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial.”
That’s it for me today. Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!