Sunday, March 20, 2016

Last Call For Viva Cu-Bama

The First Family made an historic visit to Cuba today, the first US President to step on US soil in decades, as the president will address the Cuban people in Havana this week.

President Barack Obama touched down in Cuba on Sunday, definitively ending a half-century of estrangement in a dramatic personal demonstration of his core foreign policy principle of engaging America's enemies. 
It's a shift that the change-minded president hopes will nudge the Communist government here to grant more freedoms to its people and open new economic channels for American businesses. The President and his allies also hope a successful détente will offer something bigger: a lasting example of diplomacy's power in dealing with longtime foes. 
Just before Obama stepped from Air Force One -- carrying an umbrella as a persistent rain fell on the tarmac -- he sent a message to Cubans on a platform that until recently would have been unheard of in the repressive regime. 
"¿Que bolá Cuba?" he wrote on Twitter, using an informal Cuban greeting. "Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people."

This will share President Obama's foreign policy legacy along with Syria.  I'm hoping more attention is paid to how important normalizing relations with Cuba is.

We'll see.

Trump Cards, Con't

Can we call Trump and his supporters a threat to the country yet, folks?

NBC News reporter Frank Thorp caught video of a man swinging at a protester at Trump’s Tucson, Arizona rally on Saturday and appearing to kick and stomp while the protester was on the ground.

The video shows the man taking swings at a person who is apparently down on the ground as security and police rush over to the area. The man then continues striking the person with his feet but is stopped when police handcuff him.

The video does not show what prompted the violence.

Video taken at the same rally reportedly show’s Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, roughly grabbing the collar of a protester and yanking him. Lewandowski himself was accused of violence for grabbing and yanking a female reporter for conservative website Breitbart earlier this week.

Not going to be long now before we get to the lynchings and the lethal stuff, right?  Campaign's young.  Just wait until these guys figure out they will be denied their glorious white rule by voters in the general...

Sunday Long Read: Working Out

If you're not familiar with Adam Neumann and his company, WeWork, you very soon will be. Neumann is on a multi-billion dollar quest to reinvent the American workplace for the era of internet automation and the 24/7 contractor job, where everyone lives, works, and plays together in the same place, the ultimate extension of urban planning.

Neumann and his cofounder, Miguel McKelvey, founded WeWork in 2010 with a simple business model: The company rents office space from landlords wholesale, breaks it into smaller units, and subleases it at a profit. WeWork, which now has 77 locations and more than 50,000 members, says its ultimate potential is much bigger—and investors agree. In February 2014, WeWork’s backers valued the company at $1.5 billion; by last week, its valuation had jumped to $16 billion, making WeWork, on paper, the world’s 6th most valuable private startup.

Every modern generation has sought to remake the workplace, from the introduction of the cubicle in the 1960s to the 1990s’ foosball tables and flexible hours. Now members of the generation that would rather make a job than take a job are embracing coworking environments where they can operate independently while still drawing support and networking opportunities from peers. Neumann calls these people the We Generation, which, he says, "cares about the world, actually wants to do cool things, and loves working."

Critics look at WeWork’s business model of trading spaces and shrug, That’s it? Its high valuation has made it a staple of lists predicting which unicorn startups will fail. "Their multiples are more like a tech company than what a real estate company would get," says Charles Clinton, who runs a real-estate-funding platform called EquityMultiple. "There’s a feeling that that doesn’t really make sense." If the economy wobbles, skeptics contend, WeWork’s customers will scurry back to cafés with free Wi-Fi.

Neumann, who was envisioning WeWork with 100 buildings when he had only two, sees his company as an operating system that brings real estate to life in the same way that Android is an operating system that makes a smartphone more than mere glass and metal. As more spaces open and members join the network, WeWork will have increasing power to offer such services as shipping, software, credit cards, travel, payroll, banking, and training. Eventually, members might join for these benefits alone, without any physical access whatsoever. Neumann also envisions WeWork managing offices on behalf of corporations (which are cutting down on square footage per employee). WeWork will connect them all through an app-based network. "Real estate," according to Neumann, "is just a tool."

He isn’t content simply to remake the modern office; he also wants to change how millennials think about home. WeLive, his new "co-living" residences, is a bet that they’ll value access over ownership. Just like they’re choosing Uber or Lyft rather than buying a car or subscribing to Spotify rather than having a record collection, they will be happy to share their living space, too. The first WeLive, which features common amenities with modest personal spaces, opened in New York City in January. According to leaked financial documents, the company plans to open 68 more in the next two years, the first step toward WeWork creating entire neighborhoods. "It’s a when, not an if," Neumann says of  WeCities.

Of course, in order to follow through on any of these plans, WeWork needs to convince young, urban professionals to buy into its philosophy of living and working together. Which is why, in addition to square footage, WeWork runs on something that doesn’t easily fit on a term sheet. You can call it a mission, a vibe, or culture. Neumann calls it "energy." If anyone can create energy, it’s him. But is it enough to power WeWorld?

On one hand, this is where the corporate workplace is going in the United States, global companies with a majority of contractors, work-at-home options and the 24/7 work schedule.  On the other hand, all of that is just there to create "productivity" by enslaving us.

But Neumann sure as hell is going to get rich off this.  You?  Not so much.

America's Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

A jury took about an hour to convict a right-wing "sovereign citizen" on a terrorism threat charge as he apparently made conference calls instructing people to plan to overthrow West Virginia's state government.

Thomas David Deegan, 39, was found guilty on one count of making a terrorist threat on Friday, after the 12-member jury deliberated for only an hour. He faces 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 to $25,000 when he is sentenced, in April.

Deegan, who represented himself in court, was accused of the plot, which he spoke about in a conference call that was recorded in September.

“The conversation was the actual crime itself,” prosecutor Jason Wharton told MetroNews. “The jury was able to hear the entirety of the conference call as well as some recordings from the regional jail and some other testimony.”

He told participants on the call to shoot anyone who resists them.

He said on the call that he wanted to bring a large number of people to the West Virginia capitol building in Charleston and overtake the building. Deegan denied the charges.

“It was one of 12 calls and was taken out of context,” he said. “I have studied laws and I see where they are going wrong. I just find errors. I never called myself a sovereign citizen.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Deegan intended to “remove several state government leaders from their offices, charge them with treason and replace them with sovereign citizens. After apparently setting up a sovereign citizen-style court system, those found guilty of treason would be put to death.”

He also discussed sending armed militants to local police departments.

We are at war,” Deegan said during one of the conference calls, according to the criminal complaint. “The more that come to Charleston, the less [likelihood] for bloodshed.”

He also said, “If you see the police coming and pulling up in a vehicle, I suggest you shoot them.”

So this joker here is openly threatening to kill cops, kidnap or kill state government officials, and get into firefights, but the real problem in America is Black Lives Matter, right?
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