B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act

Eagle On An Alaskan Ocean Ice Floe near Juneau - 2007

The New York Times reports:

The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction.

The changes will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, would allow economic assessments to be conducted when making determinations.

The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species, a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered.

Overall, the new rules would very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.

(click here to continue reading U.S. Significantly Weakens Endangered Species Act – The New York Times.)

Totally and utterly disgusting. Enabled by all the lick-spittle Republicans who go along with every abomination Trump births from his spit-speckled maw, and assisted by the idiots who voted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein in 2016.

In truth, if Ted Cruz had won the nomination in 2016, he might have done this same thing, but he might not have beaten Hillary Clinton either. And what-ifs are pointless.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 12th, 2019 at 11:24 am

Posted in environment

Tagged with ,

A Few Photos From Guam

…where America’s day begins.

Guam 2019

 

A few photos from my recent trip to Guam, if you are curious.

The URL to the Flickr album is here:https://flic.kr/s/aHsmERFABR, and I think this URL takes you directly to the slide show option.

I have processed about 50% of the photos, I expect I’ll finish going through the good and moderate images before the year is over. Who knows, I may feel a burst of energy and add dozens before you happen to look again.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 31st, 2019 at 7:01 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with ,

Equifax to Pay Some Fines and Laugh All The Way To The Bank

Safe - Chicago Board of Trade

 The New York Times reports on the latest slap on the wrist regarding corporate malfeasance and indifference:

The credit bureau Equifax will pay at least $650 million … to end an array of state, federal and consumer claims over a 2017 data breach that exposed the sensitive information of more than 147 million people. The breach was one of the most potentially damaging in an ever-growing list of digital thefts.

The settlement, which was announced on Monday and still needs court approval, would be the largest ever paid by a company over a data breach. The deal requires Equifax to put a minimum of $380.5 million into a restitution fund for American consumers who file claims showing that they were financially harmed.

A portion of that money will pay for lawyers’ fees, but at least $300 million must go to victims, according to settlement documents filed in federal court in Atlanta. If the initial cash is depleted, the company will add up to $125 million more to settle consumers’ claims, bringing the total fund size to more than $500 million.

Equifax will pay an additional $175 million in fines to end investigations by 50 attorneys general. Forty-eight states — all except Indiana and Massachusetts, which separately filed their own lawsuits against Equifax — are part of the deal, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

(click here to continue reading Equifax to Pay at Least $650 Million in Largest Data-Breach Settlement Ever – The New York Times.)

So the government gets a ‘taste’, but individual consumers get spit in their eye. $300,000,000 to be distributed to a portion of 147,000,000 people who Equifax screwed. $2 each. Whooo hooo! Lawyers get plenty of money, average people, not so much.

The fine print is that you have to prove that Equifax harmed you by giving away your social security number, bank info, drivers license, date of birth and whatever else. 

You Wanted Some Privacy

Fortune reports:

Equifax will also pay $20,000 to consumers who can prove that they suffered “fraud, identity theft, or other misuse” because of the data breach. Equifax will also pay them $25 per hour for up to 20 hours of time they had spent trying to safeguard their data. Equifax will also reimburse them for out-of-pocket losses and up to 25% of the cost of Equifax credit or identity monitoring. Exactly how Equifax will require consumers verify their costs is unknown.

 

(click here to continue reading Equifax Settlement: How to Get the Money You’re Owed | Fortune.)

What are the odds that 10% of the consumers who lost their data due to Equifax’s negligence will be able to jump through the proper hoops and reclaim any cash? 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 22nd, 2019 at 4:13 pm

Twitter Posts

Embedded Twitter feed just because

 

— hmmm, that didn’t do what I wanted. Why aren’t there good tools for embedding Twitter into a WordPress blog? Seems like someone clever should have invented this functionality by now…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 22nd, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Posted in blog

Why Can’t States Just Say No to Corporate Giveaways?

Crop Circles in Colorado

The New York Times reports on a topic near and dear to our interests:

No place better illustrates the absurdities of the proliferating use of tax incentives for job creation than the Kansas City metro area, which straddles the Missouri-Kansas state line.

Over the past decade, Missouri and Kansas have offered more than $330 million in tax breaks to lure companies back and forth across State Line Road. More than 100 companies and more than 12,000 workers have moved to new offices, some headed east, some headed west. Missouri poached Swiss Re and Applebee’s; Kansas got JPMorgan Chase and AMC Entertainment.

The net result? No increase in economic activity; no improvement in the lives of workers. Just a few more jobs in Kansas, a few less in Missouri — and a big loss of tax dollars.

Corporate tax incentives are a dubious business. The giveaways frequently serve no higher purpose than rewarding businesses for moving where they already plan to move or creating jobs they already plan to create. And even when incentives prove motivational, there is often reason to question whether governments are getting value for the money.

The black comedy of corporate relocation across State Line Road is an extreme example, but it is by no means unique. Half of the nation’s 10 most populous metropolitan areas — New York, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and Boston — include portions of multiple states. So do smaller metro areas such as St. Louis; Charlotte, N.C.; Portland, Ore.; Cincinnati; and Memphis. And all are struggling to limit a practice that amounts to paying your furniture to rearrange itself.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Can States Just Say No to Corporate Giveaways? – The New York Times.)

Fog Over Boeing HQ

A variant of the sports ball stadium boondoggle which we’ve also covered ad nauseam, corporate tax giveaways rarely, if ever, make sense in the long term. The politicians who vote for the tax giveaways are usually long gone, but the bill remains, payable by taxpayers. Consultants have raked in their consulting fees, businesses continue doing what they would have done, albeit with a slightly improved quarterly profit for a several years.

Salugula Pool

Not to mention, sometimes the corporation moves to somewhere else:

But the success stories tend to be celebrated while the failures are forgotten — and studies find that over time, the recipients of tax incentives are no more likely to create jobs or to drive investment than companies that don’t get a break. The plain truth is that governments have no special ability to predict which companies will thrive. Recipients of tax incentives aren’t even guaranteed to stay put. Missouri used $12.9 million in tax breaks to lure Applebee’s corporate headquarters from Kansas in 2011. Four years later, the company moved to California.

Why do politicians still lavish money on corporations for dubious reasons? Who knows, perhaps there should be a study of how many people involved in these sorts of decisions directly benefit from them within a decade. 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 9th, 2019 at 8:35 pm

Swim At Your Own Risk was uploaded to Flickr

No Lifeguard On Duty, Salungula Pool, Inarajan, Guam

embiggen by clicking
https://flic.kr/p/2guBnF9

I took Swim At Your Own Risk on June 25, 2019 at 07:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2019 at 11:51PM

Written by eggplant

July 9th, 2019 at 8:43 am

Swim At Your Own Risk was uploaded to Flickr

No Lifeguard On Duty, Salungula Pool, Inarajan, Guam

embiggen by clicking
https://flic.kr/p/2guBnF9

I took Swim At Your Own Risk on June 25, 2019 at 07:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2019 at 11:51PM

Written by eggplant

July 9th, 2019 at 2:43 am

Swim At Your Own Risk was uploaded to Flickr

No Lifeguard On Duty, Salungula Pool, Inarajan, Guam

embiggen by clicking
https://flic.kr/p/2guBnF9

I took Swim At Your Own Risk on June 25, 2019 at 07:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2019 at 11:51PM

Written by eggplant

July 9th, 2019 at 12:43 am

Guam

 

Going to Guam in a few days, if United Airlines doesn’t re-route me to Guatemala by mistake. Time zone changes as drastic as this (plus 15 hours, per my iPhone’s clock) are weird. Should I be sleeping now? Or getting up for the day?

The flight itself is quite a sojourn, I leave at 6:40 or so, and even in the best of times, travel to the airport takes about 30 minutes.

In other words, I’m already cranky and I’m not leaving for a few days.

Am so looking forward to seeing the Queen of Guam though, it’s been too long. For all of the 21st century’s shrinking of the planet, Earth is still a big place.

Per WebMD, I should be attempting to live on Guam time already, that’s probably impossible however.

Written by Seth Anderson

June 21st, 2019 at 2:28 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with ,

Kentucky Hates Women 19RS HB 148

One Track Mind

The Kentucky General Assembly is considering this bill (with at least 40 co-sponsors):

Create a new section of KRS Chapter 311 to provide that if the United States Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, or an amendment is adopted to the United State Constitution restoring state authority to prohibit abortion, no person shall knowingly administer to, prescribe for, procure for, or sell to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, or other substance with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being and no person shall use or employ any instrument or procedure upon a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being; any person who violates the prohibition is guilty of a Class D felony; provide an exemption for a licensed physician to perform a medical procedure necessary in reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death or substantial risk of death due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman; specify that this Act shall also be effective to the appropriation of Medicaid funds that set forth the limited circumstances in which states must fund abortion to remain eligible to receive federal Medicaid funds; repeal KRS 311.710; provide that this Act may be cited as the Human Life Protection Act.

(click here to continue reading 19RS HB 148.)

Here But Now Gone

and Representative Mary Lou Marzian has tongue-in-cheek proposed the following amendment:

On page 3, between lines 3 and 4, by inserting the following:
“SECTION 2. A NEW SECTION OF KRS CHAPTER 311 IS CREATED TO READ

AS FOLLOWS:

All women who are Kentucky residents, and of child bearing age, shall acquire a signed and notarized statement from a practitioner licensed pursuant to this chapter each month that states whether she is pregnant or not pregnant. If pregnant, the signed and notarized statement shall provide the status of the pregnancy. The woman shall submit the signed and notarized statement to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services each month. Any woman who fails to provide this monthly signed and notarized statement to the cabinet shall be subject to arrest and fines. Any woman who is pregnant and fails to provide this monthly signed and notarized statement to the cabinet will be fitted with an ankle monitor for the duration of the pregnancy in addition to any arrest and fines.”; and
Renumber subsequent sections accordingly.

Is this real? Or an elaborate prank? I’m guessing this amendment will not pass, but maybe it should. If the government can dictate what women can do with their bodies, why not take this to its logical conclusion?

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2019 at 11:08 am

Nevada Considering Joining National Popular Vote compact

Voting Elevators to 5th

NPR reports:

According to the National Popular Vote organization, which oversees efforts to persuade states to join the compact, 14 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to pledge their 189 electors to the winner of the national popular vote — regardless of which candidate won the state. Nevada, with its six electoral votes, would bring the total to 195. Once 270 electors are pledged, the compact would kick in.

The effort is part of a national movement to neuter the Electoral College and give more weight to the popular vote. Democrats in particular have been stung by the Electoral College, which effectively gives disproportional voting power to smaller, rural states that tend to vote Republican. In addition to President Trump, George W. Bush also won the White House without winning the popular vote.

Nevada’s Senate vote to join the agreement was 12-8, entirely along party lines. Every Republican voted against the proposal. Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, has not indicated whether he will sign the measure into law.

As NPR has reported, the popular vote movement seems to be gathering steam. In February, 11 states were on board. Since then, Colorado, Delaware and New Mexico have signed on.

(click here to continue reading Nevada May Break Up With The Electoral College : NPR.)

I’m ok with circumventing the Electoral College. We’ve changed many things about elections over the decades since 1776, and the Electoral College is another relic from our racist past, and should be set aside.

Video explainer…

Here’s a longer explanation via:

The National Popular Vote interstate compact would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election. The bill is a constitutionally conservative, state-based approach that preserves the Electoral College, state control of elections, and the power of the states to control how the President is elected.

The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted by 15 jurisdictions possessing 189 electoral votes, including 5 small jurisdictions (RI, VT, HI, DC, DE), 6 medium- size states (MD, MA, NM, WA, CT, CO), and four big states (NJ, IL, NY, CA). The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 81 more electoral votes.  The bill has passed at least one chamber in 9 additional states with 82 more electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK, OR).  A total of 3,357 state legislators from all 50 states have endorsed it.

The shortcomings of the current system of electing the President stem from “winner-take-all” laws that have been enacted by state legislatures in 48 states. These laws award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each state.

Because of these state winner-take-all statutes, presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the issues of concern to voters in states where the statewide outcome is a foregone conclusion. In 2012, as shown on the map, all of the  253 general-election campaign events were in just 12 states, and two-thirds were in just 4 states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa). Thirty-eight states were completely ignored.

The U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1) gives the states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….” The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is state law. It is not in the U.S. Constitution. The winner-take-all rule was used by only three states in 1789, and all three repealed it by 1800. It was not until the 11th presidential election (1828) that even half the states used winner-take-all laws.

The National Popular Vote interstate compact will go into effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538).  At that time, every voter in the country will acquire a direct vote for a group of at least 270 presidential electors supporting their choice for President.  All of this group of 270+ presidential electors will be supporters of the candidate who received the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC—thus making that candidate President.

In contrast, under the current system, a voter has a direct voice in electing only the small number of presidential electors to which their state is entitled.  Under NPV, every voter directly elects 270+ electors.

National Popular Vote’s Advisory Board includes former Senators Jake Garn (R–UT), Birch Bayh (D–IN), and David Durenberger (R–MN); former Congressmen John Anderson (R–IL, I), John Buchanan (R–AL), Tom Campbell (R–CA), and Tom Downey (D–NY). Other supporters include former Governor Howard Dean (D–VT), House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), and Governor Jim Edgar (R–IL).

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2019 at 10:48 am

Why aren’t Trump and Republicans pilloried for failing to ‘reach out’?

Lichen Lower Yurtistan

The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman writes:

The presidential campaign has begun, which means that Democrats are being asked again and again why they aren’t doing more to “reach out” to Republicans. But there’s something important missing from this discussion: any acknowledgement that we treat this subject with an absolutely ridiculous double standard.

…The only problem with that as a reason for appearing on a network that is a propaganda organ for the White House is that it implicitly assumes that there’s just no other way to talk to conservatives besides going on Fox.

But consider this: When was the last time you heard some chin-scratching pundit say that President Trump will never be able to reach liberals if he doesn’t go on MSNBC?

The fact that you’ve never heard anyone say that isn’t just because of how we think about the media choices politicians make. It’s because of something even more fundamental. Nobody asks whether going on MSNBC is the best way for Trump to talk to liberals because nobody even suggests that Trump should talk to liberals in the first place.

And while it’s true that we’ve never seen a president more contemptuous of people who didn’t vote for him and more singularly focused on pleasing his base than Donald Trump, this applies to the whole Republican Party. We may discuss the demographic challenges the GOP faces as the party of white people in an increasingly diverse America, and what effect it might have on the next election.

(click here to continue reading Why aren’t Trump and Republicans pilloried for failing to ‘reach out’? – The Washington Post.)

This is such a good point. I saw statistics about how often Democrats appear on Fox vs. Republicans appearing on MSNBC, and while that is not a perfectly balanced comparison1 the numbers are quite significant. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I recall it was something to the order of Democrats being 300% more likely to appear on Fox than Republicans on MSNBC.

Do Republicans even give interviews to left-leaning comedy hosts like Stephen Colbert or John Oliver? Nope, rarely, they only speak to the Fox nation, and are not criticized for this decision.

Sit And Listen To The Rain

Elizabeth Warren is right to call out Fox:

In the harshest criticism to date from a presidential contender against Fox News, Ms. Warren used a series of Twitter messages to accuse the network of giving “a megaphone to racists and conspiracists” and providing cover for corruption. She also returned to one of her campaign’s central themes, framing the channel as the sort of corporate “profit machine” she has railed against.

“Hate-for-profit works only if there’s profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet,” Ms. Warren wrote. “It’s all about dragging in ad money — big ad money.”

“A Democratic town hall gives the Fox News sales team a way to tell potential sponsors it’s safe to buy ads on Fox,” she continued. “I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate.”

(click here to continue reading Warren Calls Fox News a ‘Hate-for-Profit Racket’ and Refuses an Appearance – The New York Times.)

The Shadow Investigates Barton Springs 

Footnotes:

  1. meaning that MSNBC is not Democratic “State TV” in the way that Fox News is []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2019 at 9:19 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Before Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrests

No Alien is Illegal

The Washington Post reports:

In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities.

Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence were especially supportive of the plan, officials said, eager to execute dramatic, highly visible mass arrests that they argued would help deter the soaring influx of families.

The arrests were planned for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the other largest U.S. destinations for Central American migrants. Though some of the cities are considered “sanctuary” jurisdictions with police departments that do not cooperate with ICE, the plan did not single out those locations, officials said.

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations branch had an initial target list of 2,500 adults and children, but the plan, which remains under consideration, was viewed as a first step toward arresting as many as 10,000 migrants. The vast majority of families who have crossed the border in the past 18 months seeking asylum remain in the country, awaiting a court date or in defiance of deportation orders.

(click here to continue reading Before Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrests – The Washington Post.)

Legality ≠ Morality

How much of a villain are you when you make Kirstjen “Children in Cages” Nielsen pause? Stephen Miller is an evil man, and proud of his evil. One wonders how did he turn out that way, coming from a liberal Jewish family in liberal Santa Monica, California? Per Wikipedia, a teen-aged Miller read a book by Wayne LaPierre, NRA gun nut, and became a member of the Conservative Clan of Perpetually Angry Curmudgeons.

Immigration was ok for Miller’s ancestors though:

His mother’s ancestors Wolf Lieb Glotzer and his wife, Bessie, immigrated to the United States from the Russian Empire’s Antopol, in what is present-day Belarus, arriving in New York on January 7, 1903, on the German ship S.S. Motke and thus escaping the 1903–06 anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire. When his great-grandmother arrived in the US in 1906, she spoke only Yiddish, the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe.

Declaration of Immigration

Or as Rob Eshman of Jewish Journal puts it:

And for Miller to say his family came to America “legally” is simply a ruse. There was no illegal immigration at the turn of the century, because all non-Asian immigration was essentially legal until the 1920s.

Then, as now, angry voices fought to keep these immigrants out. They organized the Immigration Restriction League, focused on shutting the ports to swarthy Italians and Jews.

“The floodgates are open,” wrote one anti-immigrant newspaper editor as the Eastern European Jews docked in New York. “The horde of $9.60 steerage slime is being siphoned upon us from Continental mud tanks.”

Such sentiments led to the Immigration Quota Act of 1924 — which effectively shut the door to Jewish immigration on the eve of the Holocaust.

(click here to continue reading Stephen Miller, meet your immigrant great-grandfather | Jewish Journal.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 14th, 2019 at 8:57 am

Don’t Know Where To Finish was uploaded to Flickr

Wolf Point somewhere

embiggen by clicking
https://flic.kr/p/2fLd1Xj

I took Don’t Know Where To Finish on August 31, 2014 at 04:51AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 09, 2019 at 05:52AM

Update: apologies for multiple posts (IFTTT messed up again)

Written by eggplant

May 9th, 2019 at 5:58 am

Dreaded First Pair of Glasses was uploaded to Flickr

I guess I made it this long on the planet before needing them, but still…

embiggen by clicking
https://flic.kr/p/Txpagd

I took Dreaded First Pair of Glasses on April 26, 2019 at 06:06AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 26, 2019 at 01:46PM

Written by eggplant

April 26th, 2019 at 11:48 pm