Friday, August 23, 2019

Last Call For Half The Koch Supply

The most fitting eulogy for Rright-wing asshole David Koch, one-half of the infamous Koch Brothers, comes from Earther's Brian Kahn, who reminds us that if you can't find anything nice to say about the recently deceased, tell the truth because the bastard is dead.

David Koch is dead.

The billionaire died this week at age 79 of causes yet unknown. While he certainly enjoyed the fruits of his labors to deregulate U.S. industry and reduce taxes on the super-wealthy like himself, he will never have to experience the consequences of his biggest achievement: putting the entire planet on the brink of crisis in the service of enriching himself and a few other fossil fuel billionaires. And we, the people and future generations who are going to live with the fallout, will never see him or the small cadre of wealthy conservatives who funded decades of climate denial face any form of justice.

Koch’s death was first reported by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer Friday morning and confirmed by his surviving brother, Charles, shortly thereafter. The two brothers were tied as the 11th richest people on the planet on the Forbes 100, with an estimated net worth of $50.5 billion each. They amassed so much wealth in part through business savvy—you likely don’t go a day without coming in contact with something made by some subsidiary of their privately owned Koch Industries conglomerate—and in part because they spent a comparative pittance of that fortune on turning our political system into a fucking nightmare. Funding astroturf groups like Americans for Prosperity and conservative politicians has led to widespread deregulation and huge tax breaks for their businesses, allowing them to take an even bigger share of the pie.
If ratcheting up inequality were all the Kochs did, they would still be arch-villains. But the Koch brothers’ businesses from fossil fuel extraction and refining to petrochemical and fertilizer production all rely on being able to emit carbon pollution with abandon. In the 1990s, as the world moved toward an awakening on climate change and the need to address it, the Koch machine moved to block any regulations or price on carbon that would cut into their profits by funding doubt and denial. Greenpeace estimates the brothers spent $127 million from 1997 to 2017 funding 92 organizations that muddied the waters on climate change, a move that helped make international efforts to combat climate change, like the Kyoto Protocol, worthless. They funded a network of overlapping climate denial organizations to kill a 2009 bill that would have created a cap and trade system, a very business-friendly climate solution they rejected on principle.

Now David Koch is dead. And he will never have to live with the consequences of his actions, all of which were for, I don’t know, making a point as part of some libertarian 101 seminar or maybe just plain old greed. (You could argue the two are synonymous.) Ditto for the other largely anonymous small cadre of conservative billionaires and fossil fuel executives who have peddled climate denial over the years all while making the problem worse by extracting more poison from the ground and putting it in the atmosphere. They’ll likely die long before things get really bleak, and the profits they made as one of the biggest market failures in human history will almost certainly ensure their descendants are insulated from the worst impacts.

If David Koch and his brother hadn’t funded denial—as Charles is likely to continue to do—it’s possible that the world would have taken steps to drawdown carbon pollution decades ago. If the world began cutting emissions in 2000, it would have had to do so at a rate of 4 percent per year to keep warming under the 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) threshold. Starting today means “monumental” cuts. If we don’t do anything for 10 years, we’re in deep trouble. All the funding Koch kicked in for arts and cancer research won’t matter if the world burns down, a thing that’s actively happening to the Amazon rainforest on the same week he passed away.

Death was too good for the man.  He basically went out on top in the Evil Olympics.

Having said that...he went out.

Trump Trades Blows (Up)

Donald Trump just put a massive hole in the side of US-China relations, along with the US economy, by declaring Chinese President Xi Jinping the "enemy" and ordering US companies to "start looking for an alternative" to buying from and manufacturing in China.

Stocks plunged on Friday after President Donald Trump ordered in a series of tweets that U.S. manufacturers find alternatives to their operations in China. Apple led the way lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 600 points lower, or 2.3%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite slid 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively. The losses brought the Dow’s decline for August to more than 4%.

Trump tweeted on Friday: “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” However, it is not clear how much authority the president has on this front.

“The threats always been out there but there’s been no need to provoke that,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “It’s almost like the administration was expecting the Fed to announce a rate cut at the Jackson hole meeting.”

Apple shares dropped 4.4%. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) slid 4% as Nvidia and Broadcom both fell around 5%. Caterpillar shares, meanwhile, pulled back 3.1%.

Friday’s decline added to a series of sharp moves down this month. The Nasdaq has now fallen at least 1% six times this month while the Dow has posted five drops of 1% or more. The S&P 500 has closed down 1% or more four times in August. Those moves come as the U.S.-China trade war intensifies while the bond market flashes a recession signal.

Trump’s tweets come after China unveiled new tariffs on Chinese goods. China will implement new tariffs on another $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, including autos. The tariffs will range between 5% and 10% and will be implemented in two batches on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.

The White House has previously said that Trump's tweets carry the weight of executive order.  We'll see how true that is in the days to come.

The Trump Regime's Race To The Bottom, Con't

The pervasive, hateful racism of the Trump regime has gotten to the point now where the day-to-day operations of the federal government are being conducted with racism, antisemitism, and white supremacy being the active default mode.

An email sent from the Justice Department to all immigration court employees this week included a link to an article posted on a white nationalist website that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” according to a letter sent by an immigration judges union and obtained by BuzzFeed News.
According to the National Association of Immigration Judges, the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a link to a blog post from VDare, a white nationalist website, in its morning news briefing earlier this week that included anti-Semitic attacks on judges. 
The briefings are sent to court employees every weekday and include links to various immigration news items. BuzzFeed News confirmed the link to a blog post was sent to immigration court employees Monday. The post detailed a recent move by the Justice Department to decertify the immigration judges union. 
A letter Thursday from union chief Ashley Tabaddor to James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s EOIR, said the link to the VDare post angered many judges. 
“The post features links and content that directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs and the label ‘Kritarch.’ The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic,” wrote Tabaddor. The VDare post includes pictures of judges with the term “kritarch” preceding their names. 
Tabaddor said the term kritarchy is a reference to ancient Israel during a time of rule by a system of judges. 
“VDare’s use of the term in a pejorative manner casts Jewish history in a negative light as an Anti-Semitic trope of Jews seeking power and control,” she wrote. 
Tabaddor called on McHenry to take immediate action over the distribution of white nationalist content. 
“Publication and dissemination of a white supremacist, anti-semitic website throughout the EOIR is antithetical to the goals and ideals of the Department of Justice,” she wrote. The court, Tabaddor wrote, should immediately withdraw the email and issue an apology to all immigration judges, including those mentioned in the post. 
“Separately, EOIR should take all appropriate safety and security measures for all judges given the tone and tenor of this posting,” she wrote. 
After publication of this article, EOIR Assistant Press Secretary Kathryn Mattingly told BuzzFeed News “the daily EOIR morning news briefings are compiled by a contractor and the blog post should not have been included. The Department of Justice condemns Anti-Semitism in the strongest terms.”

A former senior DOJ official said that the email in question was "generated by a third-party vendor that utilizes keyword searches to produce news clippings for staff. It is not reviewed or approved by staff before it is transmitted."

It wasn't us, it was the algorithm!

Look, if your workplace openly connects to VDare for news articles to send to employees, somebody needs to be fired.  Sadly, in this day an age, that's probably worth a promotion.


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