Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Last Call For Supreme Misgivings, Con't

They're not even pretending anymore that Kavanaugh wasn't put on the bench to serve as Trump's proxy on the Supreme Court, and they don't have to care anymore now that he's there for life.

The Roger Stone aide who is mounting a constitutional challenge to special counsel Robert Mueller wants to take his case to the Supreme Court and feels "great" that Justice Brett Kavanaugh will be on the bench to, hopefully, deal a major blow to the Russia investigation. 
Andrew Miller previously worked as an aide to Stone, a longtime Trump ally who is under scrutiny in the Russia investigation. Miller was subpoenaed earlier this year to testify before the special counsel's grand jury. Instead of complying, he waged a legal battle to invalidate Mueller's authority to act as a prosecutor. A federal judge ruled against him, holding him in contempt of court for failing to testify, and he has appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 
Asked how he feels about Kavanaugh's presence on the court, as someone who might be sympathetic to his case, Miller said, "I feel nothing but great. I'm cool as a cucumber now.
Miller made the comments on a radio show Tuesday morning, when Kavanaugh heard his first oral arguments as a newly minted justice. The program on WBEN in Buffalo, New York, was hosted by former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo, a staunch Mueller critic who has been questioned as part of the investigation and is partially funding Miller's legal team. 
Earlier in the show, Miller's attorney said he hoped to take the case to the Supreme Court and predicted that a majority of the justices would support his argument against Mueller's authority, if they decided to take the case. The probability that Kavanaugh and his colleagues on the court would get to hear Miller's challenge of Mueller anytime soon is a stretch.
For the case to reach the Supreme Court, Miller would have to lose at the appellate court first. His case is scheduled to be heard by three appellate judges on November 8, and a decision would come later. 
Kavanaugh would be "very good on this issue," Miller's attorney Paul Kamenar said on WBEN. 
"He would be a good ally," Kamenar said of Kavanaugh, "because he has talked about these cases before in terms of presidential power and limiting the power of the government and has written about this very issue of the constitutionality of the independent counsel."

They're publicly doing victory laps.  They know exactly why he was appointed, and they know exactly why Justice Kennedy retired.

The fix is in.  We have to start undoing the damage in November, and while it will take the rest of my lifetime, if we don't start next month with the House and the Senate, we may never get the chance at all.

A Higher AI-er That Hires, Expired

Judging from Amazon's latest experiment in machine learning in removing the bias in HR from hiring for technical positions, AIs are only as intelligent as the data you feed them to learn and grow from. Inc’s machine-learning specialists uncovered a big problem: their new recruiting engine did not like women.

The team had been building computer programs since 2014 to review job applicants’ resumes with the aim of mechanizing the search for top talent, five people familiar with the effort told Reuters.

Automation has been key to Amazon’s e-commerce dominance, be it inside warehouses or driving pricing decisions. The company’s experimental hiring tool used artificial intelligence to give job candidates scores ranging from one to five stars - much like shoppers rate products on Amazon, some of the people said.

“Everyone wanted this holy grail,” one of the people said. “They literally wanted it to be an engine where I’m going to give you 100 resumes, it will spit out the top five, and we’ll hire those.”

But by 2015, the company realized its new system was not rating candidates for software developer jobs and other technical posts in a gender-neutral way.

That is because Amazon’s computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period. Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry.

In effect, Amazon’s system taught itself that male candidates were preferable. It penalized resumes that included the word “women’s,” as in “women’s chess club captain.” And it downgraded graduates of two all-women’s colleges, according to people familiar with the matter. They did not specify the names of the schools.

Amazon edited the programs to make them neutral to these particular terms. But that was no guarantee that the machines would not devise other ways of sorting candidates that could prove discriminatory, the people said.

The Seattle company ultimately disbanded the team by the start of last year because executives lost hope for the project, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Amazon’s recruiters looked at the recommendations generated by the tool when searching for new hires, but never relied solely on those rankings, they said.

Amazon declined to comment on the recruiting engine or its challenges, but the company says it is committed to workplace diversity and equality.

The irony here is that when it comes to technical positions, Amazon, like most American corporations, wants cheap H1-B labor from overseas, and the massive majority of H1-B workers are male.  The bias in STEM has been towards men for decades, so when Amazon put in ten years of hiring 75-80% men for technical positions into the hopper, the program "learned" that bias too and spat out the same results.

The problem with AI, like any computer program, isn't the program.  It's the people who program it.

You don't have to be a genius super-coder to pick that up.

Tramp Trades Blows, Con't

Trump tariffs are now starting to bite on automakers and the first of many to announce major layoffs is Ford, announcing that some 24,000 American auto jobs are going away.

Ford will be making cuts to its 70,000-strong white-collar workforce in a move it calls a "redesign" of its staff to be leaner, have fewer layers, and offer more decision-making power to employees, the company announced.

The number of jobs that will be axed is unknown at this point.

“A lot of the (reorganization) is about making different choices about strategy,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks told NBC News, adding that the goal isn’t just to slash spending but to improve the “fitness” of the company.

However, a recent report by Morgan Stanley estimates "a global headcount reduction of approximately 12 percent,” or 24,000 of Ford's 202,000 workers worldwide. "Such a magnitude of reduction is not without precedent in the auto industry,” analysts wrote in the investment note.

The decision is part of Ford's $25.5 billion reorganization plan, which includes slashing $6 billion in improved capital efficiencies. Ford CEO Jim Hackett, who cut more than 12,000 jobs as head of office furniture maker Steelcase, had been expected to make cutbacks even sooner, according to some observers. Hackett took over from Ford veteran Mark Fields when he was ousted from the company in May 2017.

Ford is lagging behind the competition, selling an anemic 32.8 vehicles per employee. Long-time rival GM puts out 52.7 vehicles per employee. But it's unclear exactly how improved efficiencies will impact potential job cuts.

Ford has already warned that President Donald Trump's auto tariffs have impacted the company to the tune of $1 billion, and the president’s trade policies threaten to play havoc with Ford’s ongoing reorganization, Shanks told NBC News.

Trump and Ford have been squaring off since well before the 2016 election, when then-presidential candidate originally threatened to impose hefty tariffs on vehicles Ford intended to start importing from a factory in Mexico. The carmaker eventually scrubbed that plan, but rather than return production to the U.S. it decided to move it to China.

Earlier this year, Ford said it would all but pull out of the U.S. passenger car market, citing the rapid shift in demand from sedans, coupes, and wagons to SUVs, CUVs and pickups. It was going to eliminate the conventional Focus models in favor of a crossover version, the Active. Now, with that model dropped, the still-popular Mustang will be the only remaining passenger car model in its line-up, with Ford relying in the future almost entirely on light trucks — such as the F-Series pickups that last year generated nearly all of its profits.
Ironically, Ford actually may have to cut production of the Mustang and some other models — in the process, potentially reducing U.S. jobs — as a result of the tariffs China has enacted on American-made vehicles in a tit-for-tat trade war. The Mustang had been one of the most popular U.S. vehicles sold in that country

Expect more "reorganizations" from automakers in the months ahead.  The way the housing and financial markets are right now, it won't take much to push them over the edge into another 2008-style collapse and another deep recession.

And this time we won't be getting out of it nearly as well.


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