We only have eleven days until the midterm elections and–unless the Feds intervene–one more day until Elon Musk starts destroying twitter. I know I should focus on the elections, but I just can’t face it. The press has more or less decided that the Republicans are going to take over control of the House and Senate, and I just can’t face reading beyond the headlines. I’m just going to wait and see what happens on Nov. 8. Instead, I’m going to focus on the more immediate Musk/Twitter situation.
Musk’s idea of humor is to rename his Twitter feed “Chief Twit” and walk into Twitter headquarters carrying a sink.
Musk has been founding companies since the dawn of the internet age. He’s grown Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal into the blue chips that they are today.
But the financially struggling social media company, which he is expected to buy by Friday, needs something more to become a success story, said Andy Wu, who teaches business strategy at Harvard Business School.
“Musk has no experience in managing organizational change and there’s definitely an embedded culture at Twitter that he’ll have to change in order to achieve some of his goals,” Wu said.
The challenge has only grown since Musk first offered to buy Twitter in the spring for $54.20 a share, or about $44 billion. Tech stocks have struggled along with the broader market. It didn’t help that Musk openly criticized the company, tried to walk away from the deal, and only changed his mind after a high-profile and expensive legal battle neared trial. At one point, Twitter’s stock lost a quarter of its value.
“Myself and other investors are obviously overpaying for Twitter right now,” Musk said on a call with Tesla investors last week.
He acknowledged on Thursday that there was a lot of speculation about why he was buying Twitter after all his wavering.
“It is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of believes can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” he wrote in an open letter to Twitter advertisers.
“That is why I bought Twitter. I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money,” he added, acknowledging that failure was a “very real possibility.”
Read much more about Musk at the link if you can stomach it.
"Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape," says Musk now. This essentially concedes that "free speech absolutism" is bunk, which is exactly what many of us have been arguing for months, earning nothing but sneering contempt from Musk's following. https://t.co/xW7FigaFrX
A day before Elon Musk’s court-imposed deadline to complete his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, he posted a message to advertisers in an apparent attempt to soothe nerves as concerns circulate about how he intends to run the platform.
“I wanted to reach out personally to share my motivation in buying Twitter,” he wrote. “There has been much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising. Most of it has been wrong.”
Mr. Musk went on to say that the reason he was buying Twitter was “because it is important to the future of the civilization to have a common digital town square,” where a “wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner without resorting to violence.” But, he added, “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences!”
Mr. Musk’s olive branch comes as he is in the final stages of completing the deal to buy Twitter, during which he changed his mind about buying the company before recommitting in the face of legal challenges. The billionaire, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX, showed up at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco on Wednesday, and he is expected to address the company’s 7,500 employees on Friday when the deal is set to close.
Advertisers, which account for about 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue, have been watching the deal drama, and some have been concerned about how the uncertainty will affect the service as an ad platform. Mr. Musk has said he is a “free speech absolutist” and wants to loosen rules around content moderation on the service, including reversing the ban on former President Donald J. Trump from the platform. Advertisers typically shy away from promotions alongside toxic content and misinformation.
Twitter and other social media platforms are also grappling with a broader slowdown in digital advertising. Meta said on Wednesday that its profit in the most recent quarter was down more than 50 percent from a year earlier. The company, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, warned that it didn’t see any relief on the horizon for the declining ad market.
“Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise,” Mr. Musk wrote in his note Thursday. “To everyone who has partnered with us, I thank you. Let us build something extraordinary together.”
Elon Musk’s reply to Spotify CEO’s tweet hints at future ‘trouble’ between Twitter and Apple https://t.co/vyWmlDZAhM
Elon Musk hasn’t wrapped up his purchase of Twitter yet, but he seems to be already gearing up for another battle.
In a pair of late-night Tweets, posted just four minutes apart, Musk expressed concerns about Apple’s business practices, specifically those surrounding Spotify and app store guidelines.
The first was a reply to Spotify founder Daniel Ek’s tweet highlighting a New York Times story about Apple’s three-time rejection of Spotify’s new app, as the streaming service adds audiobooks to its offerings. Apple says the new app violates its rules detailing how developers communicate with customers about online purchases.
Ek used the story as a launching pad to decry the policies, saying “I can’t be the only one who sees the absurdity.” Musk seemed to agree, replying “Concerning.”
Moments later, he voiced support for venture capitalist Bill Lee’s criticism of Apple’s 30% fee for in-app purchases, agreeing “30% is a lot.”
Criticisms about Apple and its app store policies are nothing new, of course. Spotify has butted heads with Apple before, when it began offering podcasts. And Epic Games took Apple to court last year over the policies, resulting in a split decision where the judge upheld the app store’s structure as legal.
Musk loves a good fight, though, and this isn’t the first time he’s poked Apple. In May, he tweeted that “Apple’s store is like having a 30% tax on the internet. Definitely not ok,” following that up with “Literally 10 times higher than it should be.”
Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that Musk’s company Tesla is under criminal investigation by the DOJ
🚨🚨🚨 #BREAKING: Federal prosecutors in DC and San Francisco are considering criminal charges against Elon Musk, Tesla, and their executives for obstructing a criminal investigation from shareholders, related to deaths tied to the Autopilot feature – according to @Reuters. pic.twitter.com/qT2xlmVO7R
— Sp🎃🎃ky Hunter Cullen 🇺🇦 – 1️⃣2️⃣ Days Left! 🎃 (@IndictmentTime) October 27, 2022
Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) is under criminal investigation in the United States over claims that the company’s electric vehicles can drive themselves, three people familiar with the matter said.
The U.S. Department of Justice launched the previously undisclosed probe last year following more than a dozen crashes, some of them fatal, involving Tesla’s driver assistance system Autopilot, which was activated during the accidents, the people said.
As early as 2016, Tesla’s marketing materials have touted Autopilot’s capabilities. On a conference call that year, Elon Musk, the Silicon Valley automaker’s chief executive, described it as “probably better” than a human driver.
Last week, Musk said on another call Tesla would soon release an upgraded version of “Full Self-Driving” software allowing customers to travel “to your work, your friend’s house, to the grocery store without you touching the wheel.” [….]
However, the company also has explicitly warned drivers that they must keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicles while using Autopilot.
The Tesla technology is designed to assist with steering, braking, speed and lane changes but its features “do not make the vehicle autonomous,” the company says on its website.
Such warnings could complicate any case the Justice Department might wish to bring, the sources said.
I can see why Musk likes Trump. He’s just another scam artist. All I want is to keep Twitter as a place where I can go to get the latest news and opinion, but those days may be over after tomorrow night. Sigh . . .
After months of legal wrangling, Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter appears to be finally going through. Musk and the right see this as a great thing because it will restore “free speech” to Twitter. Any suggestion that the sort of “free speech” they envision can have highly undesirable consequences is met with howls of “Libs hate free speech” or other accusations of fascism. Similarly, warnings that unfettered free speech results in dangerous misinformation spreading are derided with “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” and the libertarian belief that in the marketplace of ideas, the best will always win out.
These theories will be tested quickly. It is being reported that after the sale is finalized, Musk plans on laying off nearly three-quarters of Twitter’s staff and that one of the first things to go will be any corporate attempt at content moderation and user security. Musk also plans on restoring the accounts of high-profile sources of disinformation and violent messaging who were previously banned, most notably former President Trump.
The pro-Musk arguments are complete nonsense, and there are innumerable historical and modern examples of why social media platforms with nearly unlimited freedom of speech produce horrors. The Supreme Court decided free speech isn’t absolute long ago, when Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted that you can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, for obvious reasons.
First, freedom of speech has caused untold death and suffering when used to disseminate hate or spread disinformation. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a fabricated antisemitic text that purported to expose a global baby-murdering Jewish plot bent on world domination. Mein Kampf was Hitler’s autobiography, which blamed Germany’s post–World War I woes on a global Jewish conspiracy. Both were readily available in the Weimar Republic, which had no First Amendment per se but guaranteed freedom of speech. They were key contributors to the fall of German democracy, the rise of the Third Reich, and the Holocaust itself.
In modern times, lack of moderation on social media sites has repeatedly contributed to mass murder. The Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter killed 51 Muslims at two mosques after being radicalized on YouTube, 4Chan, and 8Chan. The shooter who killed 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh had been radicalized on the social media site Gab, which advertised itself as the “free speech” alternative to Twitter. Dylann Roof killed nine people at the historically Black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, after he self-radicalized online. Investigations revealed that Google searches steered him further and further into extremist propaganda and hate.
The carnage caused by misinformation spread by social media goes far beyond massacres by racists, antisemites, and Islamophobes. Over one million Americans have died of Covid-19, and at least 25 percent of those deaths were preventable if people had gotten vaccinated. Many others could have been prevented if people had worn masks, socially distanced, believed the disease was real, or otherwise behaved in a rational manner.
Read the rest at TNR.
Finally, Musk is a believe in “longtermism,” a philosophical theory about how to save humanity in the long term. It involves making it possible for humans to populate other planets and other crazy, cult-like ideas. Dave Troy, an investigative journalist who studies “threats to democracy,” argues that Musk’s desire to control Twitter as a “public square” is part of his belief in this weird philosophy.
3/Anyone evaluating his moves through the lens of only 'money' or 'profit' will be at a loss to explain his decisionmaking. Start thinking about how his moves maximize (in his eyes) the number of future humans + AI's in the universe; that will prove to be the framework he uses.
When Elon Musk’s text messages were released as part of a court filing over his proposed purchase of Twitter, the world’s richest man was found to be corresponding with tech billionaires, fellow chief executives and bankers.
Tucked incongruously among those business leaders were messages from a Scottish moral philosopher.
The philosopher, William MacAskill, was acting as a go-between for the crypto-billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, who “has for a while been potentially interested in purchasing it and then making it better for the world,” Mr. MacAskill wrote to Mr. Musk in March, referring to Twitter.
Mr. MacAskill’s appearance in that batch of messages, along with TV appearances and magazine profiles, has contributed to a sense of his sudden ubiquity, improbable considering his usually staid, ivory tower-bound profession. But his latest book, “What We Owe the Future,” became a best seller after it was published in August.
His rising profile parallels the worldwide growth of the giving community he helped found, effective altruism. Once a niche pursuit for earnest vegans and volunteer kidney donors who lived frugally so that they would have more money to give away for cheap medical interventions in developing countries, it has emerged as a significant force in philanthropy, especially in millennial and Gen-Z giving.
As the title of his recent book suggests, Mr. MacAskill argues that people living today have a responsibility not just to people halfway around the world but also those in future generations.
The rise of this kind of thinking, known as longtermism, has meant the Effective Altruists are increasingly associated with causes that have the ring of science fiction to them — like preventing artificial intelligence from running amok or sending people to distant planets to increase our chances of survival as a species.
McCaskill published an op-ed in The New York Times in August: The Case for Longtermism. The idea is that the long-term survival of humans should be our moral focus, not the immediate needs of people who are alive today.
Longtermism is about taking seriously just how big the future could be and how high the stakes are in shaping it. If humanity survives to even a fraction of its potential life span, then, strange as it may seem, we are the ancients: we live at the very beginning of history, in its most distant past. What we do now will affect untold numbers of future people. We need to act wisely.
It took me a long time to come around to longtermism.Over the past 12 years, I’ve been an advocate of effective altruism — the use of evidence and reason to help others as much as possible. In 2009, I co-founded an organization that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to help pay for bed nets to protect families against malaria and medicine to cure children of intestinal worms, among other causes. These activities had a tangible impact. By contrast, the thought of trying to improve the lives of unknown future people initially left me cold.
But some simple ideas exerted a persistent force on my mind: Future people count. There could be a lot of them. And we can make their lives better. To help others as much as possible, we must think about the long-term impact of our actions….
But society tends to neglect the future in favor of the present. Future people are utterly disenfranchised. They can’t vote or lobby or run for public office, so politicians have scant incentive to think about them. They can’t tweet, or write articles, or march in the streets. They are the true silent majority. And though we can’t give political power to future people, we can at least give them fair consideration. We can renounce the tyranny of the present over the future and act as trustees for all of humanity, helping to create a flourishing world for the generations to come.
Anyway, that’s what’s behind Musk’s space projects–making sure humans survive even if the the planet Earth doesn’t. I’m not sure I understand how that’s related to Twitter and free speech, but I’m not a tech billionaire, so I don’t count.
I know this is a weird post, and if you didn’t read the whole thing, that’s OK. I hope you all have a nice Thursday!
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As we learn more about Trump’s successful efforts to undermine U.S. democracy, it is becoming evident that Trump and Trumpism will be haunting us for a long time to come. I only hope it isn’t too late for this country to recover.
Yesterday, Dakinikat wrote about the latest Trumpian outrages, and this morning there is much more being reported in the aftermath of yesterday’s revelations about Trump’s corruption of the Department of Justice–specifically about The New York Times’s blockbuster story about the Trump DOJ obtaining phone and email data belonging to members of the House Intelligence Committee.
The Department of Justice sent a broad request in February 2018 to Apple as part of its investigation that collected data on members of Congress, staffers and their families. The department demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses from Apple, the company said Friday evening.
Apple received the subpoena from the Justice Department on Feb. 6, 2018, but it contained no information about who the investigation was targeting or why, the company said. Apple also said determining who the targeted accounts belonged to would have required extensive research.
A person familiar with the request said the subpoena requested information on the targeted accounts beginning with the inception of the accounts through the day of the subpoena.
Apple said it limited the information it provided to metadata and account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures. While Apple says it would have normally informed customers, a nondisclosure order prevented it from doing so in this case, the company said.
The nondisclosure order was extended three times, each time for a year, Apple said. When it was not extended for a fourth time, Apple said it informed the affected customers on May 5, 2021.
Apple said they believe that other providers also got subpoenas, and the story reports that Microsoft was ordered to turn over data belonging to a Congressional staffer. This one was also accompanied by a gag order.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling associates he had no idea his Justice Department seized phone records of two top Democratic congressional critics of then-President Donald Trump.
Painting by Lotte Laserstein
In the hours since The New York Times broke the news on Thursday that prosecutors subpoenaed Apple metadata from Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), former Attorney General Sessions has privately told people that he wasn’t aware of, nor was he briefed on, the reported data seizures while he led the Trump DOJ. This week’s revelations were a surprise to him, according to a source familiar with the matter, and another person close to Sessions.
“[What’s been reported] is explicitly the kind of thing that Donald Trump would often say he wanted out of his Justice Department,” said the individual familiar with the matter. “But right now, it’s unclear how many top officials [at the time] even knew about this.”
Former Attorney General William Barr on Friday distanced himself from reports that the Trump Justice Department seized communications records belonging to two prominent Democratic lawmakers who were spearheading investigations into then-President Donald Trump.
In a phone interview, Barr said he didn’t recall getting briefed on the moves.
Barr’s comments came after The New York Times reported that in 2017 and 2018, the Justice Department secretly seized the records of at least 12 people connected to the House Intelligence Committee, including its current chair. Barr became attorney general in 2019….
Barr said that while he was attorney general, he was “not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case.” He added that Trump never encouraged him to zero in on the Democratic lawmakers who reportedly became targets of the former president’s push to unmask leakers of classified information.
Trump “was not aware of who we were looking at in any of the cases,” Barr said. “I never discussed the leak cases with Trump. He didn’t really ask me any of the specifics.”
Yeah, right. I don’t believe a word of that bullshit.
(CNN)The Justice Department’s leak investigation that targeted lawmakers was more than a year old when Attorney General William Barr took office in 2019. Barr had vowed early on to help answer lingering questions from conservatives about the fairness of the Justice Department’s handling of politically sensitive investigations.
Barr pushed for briefings from national security prosecutors and urged them to move quickly to complete investigations, according to people briefed on the matter. In some cases, he sought to bring in outside prosecutors to help reinvigorate investigations he thought weren’t moving quickly enough….
Painting by Giacomo Ceruti
The probe looking into whether lawmakers briefed on classified information leaked information to reporters was among several that were launched early on during the era of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was overseeing matters related to Russia, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions was recused….
As part of his effort to crack down on leakers, Barr brought in a well-regarded New Jersey prosecutor, Osmar Benvenuto, in early 2020 to help oversee leak investigations, which raised some eyebrows among Washington-based prosecutors because the line prosecutor had not had extensive counterintelligence or leak investigation experience. Like Trump, Barr had suspicions about leaks and believed the department’s credibility was at stake if it couldn’t show it fully investigated them, people briefed on the matter said.
He also found a set of aggressive career prosecutors leading this and other leak cases who were willing to take extraordinary steps to try to complete the probes.
Good old Rod Rosenstein. He turned out to be a loyal Trumpist too.
It was already a matter of record that William Barr abused his power as attorney general under former President Donald Trump. Turns out, it’s even worse than we knew.
There’s no question that Barr was fundamentally dishonest (to put it charitably). Federal judges nominated to the bench by presidents of both political parties have found that Barr “lack(ed) … candor“; that his public and in-court statements were “disingenuous,” “incomplete,” “inconsistent” with truth and “called into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility.” Others, including former special counsel Robert Mueller, thousands of former Justice Department officials (including me), and members of Congress have expressed doubt or worse about Barr’s truthfulness and integrity.
Photo by Brook Hummer
We already knew that Barr politicized the Justice Department. He used it defensively to shield Trump from potential criminal exposure by misleading the public about Mueller’s findings, and by declaring, contrary to the evidence and the law, that Trump had not obstructed justice. (In his report, Mueller detailed extensive evidence of obstruction, but declined to clearly state whether he concluded that Trump had committed a crime). And Barr intervened in unprecedented fashion to undermine his own Justice Department’s prosecutions of Trump’s political allies Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.
But recent revelations — that prosecutors in Trump’s Department of Justice subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of Democratic members of Congress, their staffs and families — are different in kind. According to The New York Times, Barr even moved a New Jersey-based attorney to the main Justice Department to work on a case related to Rep. Adam Schiff of California, one of the House Democrats whose data was sought. (Barr, the Justice Department and Apple declined to comment on the story to the Times, though the Justice Department’s inspector general has said it will investigate.)
In taking such action, Barr used the staggering power of his position to selectively pursue Trump’s perceived political rivals. This is eerily similar to former President Richard Nixon’s “enemies list” and his efforts at retributive action.
Read the rest at CNN.
In other news, a number of media outlets recently reported that an IG report exonerated Trump of accusations that he ordered protesters cleared from Lafayette Square last year so he could do his despicable photo-op holding up a bible. Not so fast.
On June 1, 2020, as the Black Lives Matter protests were escalating, President Donald Trump, in an effort to project power and restore a sense of “law and order,” decided to walk across the street from the White House and hold aloft a Bible outside St. John’s Church, which had been damaged during a protest the night before.
He was able to do so because the crowd of protesters in Lafayette Square, which abuts the church, had been forcibly cleared by law enforcement in what some outlets referred to as an “attack” — officers from various law enforcement groups used horses, riot shields, batons, pepper spray, and tear gas to clear the area.
Girl in the red dress with cat and dog, by Ammi Phillips, 1788-1865
Reporters and onlookers understandably linked Trump’s desire to hold a photo op with the operation to forcibly clear protesters. But the new IG report has prompted a reevaluation of that linkage with its conclusion that “the evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the USPP (United States Park Police) cleared the park to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church.”
“Instead, the evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31,” it says.
Again, not so fast.
But the report does not clarify everything about what happened on June 1. For example, it does not offer perspective on whether the injury to officers actually necessitated clearing the park — a question raised immediately after protesters were removed. Nor does it definitively state that Trump had nothing to with how the clearing was carried out.
In fact, the report also suggests that other law enforcement agencies that were on the scene that day, such as the Secret Service, may have had reasons for taking aggressive action to clear protesters that went beyond the desire to install new fencing.
But because the IG report is limited to the actions of the USPP and did not include interviews with the Secret Service or the attorney general at the time of the incident, Bill Barr — who spoke with law enforcement before the operation began — important questions about the chain of events that led to protesters being forcibly cleared from the area on that day remain unanswered.
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track one target or trace a whole network of associates, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. It may be the first of its kind. The NSA prides itself on stealing secrets and breaking codes, and it is accustomed to corporate partnerships that help it divert data traffic or sidestep barriers. But there has never been a Google or Facebook before, and it is unlikely that there are richer troves of valuable intelligence than the ones in Silicon Valley.
Equally unusual is the way the NSA extracts what it wants, according to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”
PRISM was launched from the ashes of President George W. Bush’s secret program of warrantless domestic surveillance in 2007, after news media disclosures, lawsuits and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court forced the president to look for new authority.
Congress obliged with the Protect America Act in 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with U.S. intelligence collection. PRISM recruited its first partner, Microsoft, and began six years of rapidly growing collection beneath the surface of a roiling national debate on surveillance and privacy. Late last year, when critics in Congress sought changes in the FISA Amendments Act, the only lawmakers who knew about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.
It is disgusting, and in my opinion, with the way these terrorist sting operations are handled, that “border” on entrapment or set up and organized by the feds themselves…these secret courts and top-secret decisions scare the crap out of me.
In other news, that did not get much notice today…
It’s no mystery why images of unremitting violence spring to mind when one hears the deceptively simple term, “D-Day.” We’ve all seen — in photos, movies, old news reels, and usually in grim black-and-white — what happened on the beaches of Normandy (codenamed Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword) as the Allies unleashed their historic assault against German defenses on June 6, 1944.
But in color photos taken before and after the invasion, LIFE magazine’s Frank Scherschel captured countless other, lesser-known scenes from the run-up to the onslaught and the heady weeks after: American troops training in small English towns; the French countryside, implausibly lush after the spectral landscape of the beachheads; the reception GIs enjoyed en route to the capital; the jubilant liberation of Paris itself.
June 6 is the 45th anniversary of the death of Robert Francis Kennedy. Shot the day before as he claimed victory in the 1968 Democratic primary in California, he remains a lasting influence on the politics of this day.
Clearly a progressive and a liberal by any measure, Robert Kennedy’s message transcends political boundaries. Expressed in the vocabulary of humanity, Kennedy’s intellectual perspectives can be found in the policy proposals of Reagan as well as Obama. It was Robert Kennedy’s concept, for example, that Reagan borrowed to advocate targeted regulatory relief and specialized tax incentives to economically depressed areas. Kennedy called it “operation bootstrap”; Reagan called it enterprise zones, both liked it for the same reason: it confessed faith and confidence in a person’s ability to stand on his own if given a fair chance.
“Esther Williams had one contribution to make to movies — her magnificent athletic body,” the film critic Pauline Kael wrote. “And for over 10 years MGM made the most of it, keeping her in clinging, wet bathing suits and hoping the audience would shiver.”
A Senate panel on Tuesday approved legislation to give millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, setting up a spirited debate next month in the full Senate over the biggest changes in immigration policy in a generation.
President Barack Obama, who has made enactment of an immigration bill one of his top priorities for this year, praised the Senate Judiciary Committee’s action, saying the bill was consistent with the goals he has expressed.
By a vote of 13-5, the Senate panel approved the bill that would put 11 million illegal residents on a 13-year path to citizenship while further strengthening security along the southwestern border with Mexico, long a sieve for illegal crossings into the United States.
The vote followed the committee’s decision to embrace a Republican move to ease restrictions on high-tech U.S. companies that want to hire more skilled workers from countries like India and China.
In a dramatic move before the vote, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, withdrew an amendment to give people the right to sponsor same-sex partners who are foreigners for permanent legal status.
Leahy’s colleagues on the committee – Republicans and Democrats – warned that the amendment would kill the legislation in Congress. Democrats generally favor providing equal treatment for heterosexual and homosexual couples, while many Republicans oppose doing so.
Well, like I said at the beginning of the post, I wasn’t going to comment much….but yeah, I will say Obama is getting what he wants. Definitely.
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had to make what the New York senator called an “excruciating” decision on Tuesday to come out against including LGBT couple provisions in their immigration reform bill, citing the need to keep the fragile balance in the “gang of eight.”
Sounding disappointed, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) withdrew the amendment after debate during a markup on the bill.
“I take the Republican sponsors of this important legislation at their word that they will abandon their own efforts if discrimination is removed from our immigration system,” Leahy said. “So, with a heavy heart, and as a result of my conclusion that Republicans will kill this vital legislation if this anti-discrimination amendment is added, I will withhold calling for a vote on it. But I will continue to fight for equality.”
Leahy brought up his amendments on same-sex couples during a markup of the immigration bill after some uncertainty that he would force discussion on it at all. Under current law and the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples cannot petition for legal status for the foreign-born partner, even if they’re legally married in their state. That means that thousands are forced to live separately for months or years, or even leave the United States to be with their partners.
Even with all the steps forward lately, in the form of so many states passing marriage equality laws…this immigration bill puts LGBT rights several steps backwards…again.
Just hours after hundreds of people held a rally in Greenwich Village to protest the killing of a gay man last week, two men were violently assaulted in separate attacks in downtown Manhattan because of their sexual orientation, New York City officials said on Tuesday.
The attacks added to a troubling increase in reported antigay crimes in the city.
“It is a shame that we have to get together to talk about some things that should never occur, that we always thought, you know, we’d gotten beyond that,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.
The company’s method of holding profits overseas isn’t new — and it’s not necessarily illegal — but it was the focus of a Senate hearing on Tuesday in which Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the company’s tax strategies, which allowed Apple to pay a 2 percent tax on $74 billion in profits.
Apple of course isn’t the only company doing this. The tech giant, along with some of America’s largest companies, held at least $1.9 trillion in assets abroad, according to Bloomberg. General Electric, which held $108 billion overseas in 2012, topped Bloomberg’s list of U.S. companies with the most cash held offshore.
Apple has called for US corporate tax rates to be slashed after it admitted sheltering at least $30bn (£20bn) of international profits in Irish subsidiaries that pay no tax at all.
In a dramatic display of how threats from multinational corporations are driving down taxes across the world, chief executive Tim Cook warned Congress that he would refuse to repatriate a total of $100bn stashed offshore unless it acted to slash the 35% US rate.
Cook said the tax rate for repatriated money should be set “in single digits” to persuade companies to bring it back. Standard tax for US profits should be, he said, in the “mid 20s”.
He also revealed that Apple had struck a secret deal with the Irish government in 1980 to limit its domestic taxes there to 2%.
Three subsidiaries based in Ireland are also used to shelter profits made in the rest of Europe and Asia but are not classed as resident in any country for tax purposes – a tactic dubbed the “iCompany” by critics.
Cook’s testimony to a Senate sub-committee investigating multinational tax practices largely confirmed its findings that Apple had taken tax avoidance to a new extreme by structuring these companies so they did not incur tax liabilities anywhere.
NASA can send robots to Mars, no problem. But if it’s ever going to put humans on the red planet it has to figure out how to feed them over the course of a years-long mission.So the space agency has funded research for what could be the ultimate nerd solution: a 3-D printer that creates entrees or desserts at the touch of a button.
But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.
Ubiquitous food synthesizers would also create new ways of producing the basic calories on which we all rely. Since a powder is a powder, the inputs could be anything that contain the right organic molecules. We already know that eating meat is environmentally unsustainable, so why not get all our protein from insects?
If eating something spat out by the same kind of 3D printers that are currently being used to make everything from jet engine parts to fine art doesn’t sound too appetizing, that’s only because you can currently afford the good stuff, says Contractor. That might not be the case once the world’s population reaches its peak size, probably sometime near the end of this century.
“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” says Contractor. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”
Okay, is this like a step towards Solent Green?
I guess my mind, a comical combination of medicine induced haze, epilepsy impaired brain cells, crazy depressed emotional waves, medievalist mind at heart, twisted dark thought-provoking, sleepy, overweight, short, forty-plus woman can’t seem to grasp the concept behind these printers. Can someone explain to me, in the simplest of terms…what exactly are 3-D printers and how the fuck do these 3-D printer things work?
That is my question to you this morning. Y’all have a good day…hopefully things will be quiet and peaceful.
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Ah! The holidays…a time for frantic shopping, decorating trees and emergency room visits. Well, that last one about the ER is something we celebrate on a regular basis in my family. My brother Denny fell down the step of the front porch this morning…and he is sitting in the Banjoville ER waiting on x-ray results. If he has a broken wrist/arm they will need to put a cast on him, and that is not going to sit too well with him.
I promised my daughter that we would get the Christmas tree today, something she has nagged about…I told her the tree will be au naturale this year, which means only white lights, strung popcorn and ribbon.
Anyway, since so much is going on today, I am posting this afternoon thread earlier than usual.
Apple has announced it is moving some of the manufacture jobs to the US…for a review check this post out by Emptywheel: The ameriMac
Presumably because of Apple’s rocky PR and financial results of late, Tim Cook gave two purportedly “Exclusive!” interviews, to NBC News and Businessweek. The big takeaway from both “Exclusives!” was the same, however: that Apple will move some production of the Mac back to the US next year.
You were instrumental in getting Apple out of the manufacturing business. What would it take to get Apple back to building things and, specifically, back to building things in the U.S.?
It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported—the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.
Thus far, I have not seen any acknowledgment that this move comes just two months after Lenovo made a similar announcement, that it was going to bring production of formerly IBM products back to Tim Cook’s old stomping grounds in IBM’s former production hub of North Carolina.
Well, personally I love Lenovo products….but this news that jobs are coming back the states is something good to hear about. I just hope that things don’t go the way of Toyota. When they moved manufacture from Japan to Tennessee, the product quality went down…for reasons I don’t know. I guess we just have to see how it goes.
The current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, COP 18, is ongoing in Doha, Qatar and like all previous COPs there is an abundance of representation of global interests, not the least of which are foreign ministers (or their deputies) of many nations, and a swarm of international press.
And, as usual and like moths to a light, these COPs attract a very wide range of what most of us perceive as “fringe” organizations and individuals, as well as many serious foreign policy organizations.
Relatively few however hold press briefings in the main press conference room, yet somehow Senator Inhofe managed to get 30 minutes in front of the press to present a video by himself and a live brief by Christopher Monckton, as well as a spokesman for the “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.”
We all know of the long running connection between Inhofe and Monckton and various monied interests (especially fossil fuel companies), and Senator Inhofe’s fundamentalist Christian beliefs and his own theocratic tendencies are well documented.
Where the hell do they get these committee names from? Double speak? You bet your ass! Anyway, back to the idiots, and their constructive tomorrows:
But what of Cathie Adams? Fortunately for us TFN did a short backgrounder on her when earlier this year she resumed being head of the Texas Eagle Forum after even the Texas GOP party had quite enough of her as their leader:
– Adams sees religious diversity as a threat to this country. From an October 1999 TEF letter:
‘(W)e must place our faith in the ONE true God, then humble ourselves, pray and seek Him and repent for our sins. Then God will forgive us and heal our land. Do you think that a jealous God will tolerate ‘religious pluralism’ and allow us to come to Him any way we please? Absolutely not!’
– Adams believes that the United Nations is paving the way for the ‘anti-Christ.’
From a 2000 TEF letter:
‘The Bible tells us that in the end times there will be a world government headed by a world leader, called the anti-Christ, who will profess a world religion, but did you ever think you would live in the day when these things would come into being? That is exactly what the United Nations is doing behind the backs of most Americans.’
From a January 1999 TEF newsletter:
‘In the future, the anti-Christ will use the pleas for human rights, economic equity and a promise to ‘end all wars’ to found global government… . God is not the author of global government, the anti-Christ is, and the UN conspicuously manifests his warmongering spirit.’
So, Inhofe arranges for someone who thinks the UN is a front for the Anti-Christ be his spokesman at a climate change conference, to convince us all that climate change is a hoax.
Please…it is beyond ridiculous and embarrassing. As LGF points out:
Oh, and of course:
Adams is an anti-science zealot.
Criticizing evolution in an October 2003 email to TEF activists during the Texas State Board of Education’s debate over proposed new science textbooks:
‘Did you evolve from an ape or were you created by God? This is NOT a rhetorical question. Your child or grandchild WILL be taught according to what you choose now.’
Yes, she’s a die hard literal creationist.
This is who Inhofe sends to put up in front of the world to argue climate change is a hoax.
The UNFCCC has many problems and (not uncommon with other forums that include most of the nations of the world) has proven to be rather ineffective at addressing climate change.
Yet to add to that ineffectiveness, Inhofe, Monckton, and Adams got prime speaking time in the UNFCCC press briefing room to spout conspiracy theories and wingnut fantasies.
This is a new low for the UNFCCC, and that is saying something.
I think it is more of a new low regarding the world’s opinion of United States Senators, and the dumb asses who elect them.
Alright, here’s the rest of today’s reads:
Handyman kidnapped ‘to do repair’ –From the Independent…and here I thought the crazy Inhofe/Adams thing was bad optics for our reputation in the global scheme of things. This couple kidnapped a dude to fix their dishwasher.
A man and a woman were arrested in San Jose, California after they abducted a local handyman and forced him to repair their dishwasher.
Jason DeJesus, 36, and Chanelle Troedsen, 33, invited the 50-year-old handyman to their home When he arrived, they beat him and threatened him with further violence if he failed to comply with their demands. During his eight-hour ordeal, the man dealt with the faulty kitchen appliance, as well as a broken door.
Mafia hitmen chased a rival gangster into a nursery school in northern Naples and shot him dead while four-year-olds were singing Christmas carols just yards away, it has emerged.
Even battle-weary citizens of the area’s bloody Camorra drug wars were horrified by the latest killing. Within minutes of the hit on Tuesday morning, panic-stricken parents arrived at the school clamouring to see if their children were safe.
After the killers fled the children were led to safety by teachers. “We were practising songs for the Christmas recital,” said a teacher at the Eugenio Montale pre-school. “We took them out through a back door and they didn’t see the body.”
A new microscopy tool promises to revolutionize nanoscale imaging. Left, a design schematic of the so-called “campanile” microscopy tip. Right, an electron micrograph of the tip and, inset, the UC Berkeley campanile bell-tower for which it is named. Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
If nanoscience were television, we’d be in the 1950s. Although scientists can make and manipulate nanoscale objects with increasingly awesome control, they are limited to black-and-white imagery for examining those objects. Information about nanoscale chemistry and interactions with light—the atomic-microscopy equivalent to color—is tantalizingly out of reach to all but the most persistent researchers.
Read more about nanoscience at the link.
Enjoy your Thursday evening, this is an open thread.
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.