I should get due process, no one else deserves it

Let’s look in on Philippines’ President Duterte:

The Hague-based court said last month that it was opening a preliminary inquiry into allegations that Duterte and other Philippine officials committed mass murder and crimes against humanity in the course of their crackdown on narcotics. Thousands of people have died at the hands of police officers or unknown gunmen since Duterte took office in 2016 promising to kill drug dealers and addicts.

In a written statement released Wednesday, Duterte accused the court of violating “due process and the presumption of innocence.”

Given that Duterte has repeatedly said that drug users and pushers should be killed and he would pardon any police officer that was implicated in any of the killings. He assumes they’re all guilty and so should be killed, he also has no real problem with bystanders also being killed. So it would be funny that he’s so upset that he’s being accused of a crime without due process if his drug war hasn’t killed more than 12000 people with no due process whatsoever.

Torture is back

Ok, it’s not back yet (that we know of) but one of the architects of torture under the Bush administration is now going to be in charge of the CIA:

1. Haspel ran a secret CIA prison in Thailand in 2002, where terror suspects were subjected to waterboarding. She oversaw the brutal interrogation of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, The New York Times reported. Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in a single month, as well as confinement in coffin-like boxes and other abuse. Interrogators later conceded he had given them all the information that he had.

2. Haspel also helped carry out a 2005 order that the agency destroy videos of the waterboarding.

Let’s look at the interrogation of Zubaydah (from here):

One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use.

It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics. In addition, I saw that using these alternative methods on other terrorists backfired on more than a few occasions — all of which are still classified.

I made a list of the problems with torture here. Anyone associated with torture shouldn’t be in the US government never mind in charge of the CIA.

This is the way Trump adds jobs

President Trump is big, like most Republicans, on cutting regulations because, they say,  regulations cost jobs. The OMB, which is now run by the Trump administration, is mandated to put out a report on the costs and benefits of regulation:

OMB gathered data and analysis on “major” federal regulations (those with $100 million or more in economic impact) between 2006 and 2016, a period that includes all of Obama’s administration, stopping just short of Trump’s. The final tally, reported in 2001 dollars:

  • Aggregate benefits: $219 to $695 billion
  • Aggregate costs: $59 to $88 billion

By even the most conservative estimate, the benefits of Obama’s regulations wildly outweighed the costs.

According to OMB — and to the federal agencies upon whose data OMB mostly relied — the core of the Trumpian case against Obama regulations, arguably the organizing principle of Trump’s administration, is false.

Oops. A couple examples:

For example, new fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines had (in 2001 dollars) between $6.7 billion and $9.7 billion in benefits. But they cost industry $0.8 billion to $1.1 billion.

The MATS rule, aimed at reducing toxic emissions from power plants, had between $33 billion and $90 billion in benefits (in 2007 dollars, for some reason), but it cost industry $9.6 billion.

So the benefits easily outweigh the costs. But jobs:

The conclusion — which is in keeping with the broader literature, as I described in this post — is that there may be local and temporary employment effects from environmental regulations, either positive or negative, but at the aggregate national level, such regulations simply aren’t a significant factor in employment. Their effects are lost amid the noise of demographic shifts and macroeconomic drivers.

Oh, well that’s what the tariffs are for, to save jobs:

TTP estimates that the tariffs will, on net, cost about 146,000 jobs, two-thirds of which are production and low-skill jobs. This estimate doesn’t take into account any possible retaliation from our trading partners.

So, Trump’s moves to help the economy, cutting regulations and putting in tariffs, will have more costs than benefits and will cost the country jobs overall. That’s a win by Trump standards.

Banks are at it again

There was a large banking crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but by 1996 the FDIC was collecting no insurance premiums from the banks. Banks caused the largest recession since the Great Depression in 2008 and now it’s time to cut back on banking regulations according to Republicans and including some Democrats:

The core of the new bill exempts about two dozen financial companies with assets between $50 billion and $250 billion from the highest levels of scrutiny by the Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank. Supporters argue that the legislation would bring much-needed relief to midsize and regional banks that were treated like their much larger counterparts under the 2010 legislation known as Dodd-Frank. Opponents say it would weaken the oversight needed to stave off the type of dangerous lending and investing that brought the U.S. economy to its knees.

“The Main Street banks, community banks and credit unions didn’t create the crisis in 2008, and they were getting heavily regulated,” Tester said, contending that “there’s not one thing in this bill that gives Wall Street a break.”

First, these are not community banks, they are some of the biggest banks in the country. Second, most banks helped to crash the world economy:

The crisis was fueled by risky investments at all levels of the financial system. Local banks and mortgage brokers offered subprime home loans to people who had little chance of keeping up with their payments, and then sold those loans to firms up the chain. They were in turn bundled by larger firms and used for a string of exotic financial instruments sold around the world. When homeowners defaulted on their loans en masse, the bonds they’d been bundled into — as well as other assets based on those bonds — collapsed in value, threatening to take the global financial system down with them.

And if there’s not one thing that gives Wall Street a break, why are they spending so much time and money to get this bill passed?


Trump’s Katrina

President Trump did a great job with Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico:

Two months after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, scores of people were still dying in its aftermath, new government data suggest.

The total number of deaths above average in September, October and November was 1,230, according to Alexis Santos, a demographer at Pennsylvania State University who obtained the data from the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics and conducted an analysis that he released to the Los Angeles Times this week.

Trump, of course, thinks he did a great job:

When President Trump visited Puerto Rico two weeks after the storm, he used the official death toll of 16 as evidence that his administration had been highly effective in dealing with the tragedy.

And it’s still an ongoing disaster:

Overall, more than 15 percent of power customers remain in the dark nearly six months after Hurricane Maria, which destroyed two-thirds of the island’s power distribution system. Officials have said they expect power to be fully restored by May.

Good job Trump.

The rich hate unions. Do you wonder why?

Corporations and the rich spend millions of dollars to try to get rid of unions:

In the summer of 2016, government workers in Illinois received a mailing that offered them tips on how to leave their union. By paying a so-called fair-share fee instead of standard union dues, the mailing said, they would no longer be bound by union rules and could not be punished for refusing to strike.

“To put it simply,” the document concluded, “becoming a fair-share payer means you will have more freedom.”

The mailing, sent by a group called the Illinois Policy Institute, may have seemed like disinterested advice. In fact, it was one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right. It is an effort that will reach its apex on Monday, when the Supreme Court hears a case that could cripple public-sector unions by allowing the workers they represent to avoid paying fees.

Despite the fact that this hurts Democrats:

A recent paper by Mr. Hertel-Fernandez and two colleagues may foretell what Democrats can expect if Mr. Uihlein and his fellow philanthropists succeed. It found that the Democratic share of the presidential vote dropped by an average of 3.5 percentage points after the passage of so-called right-to-work laws allowing employees to avoid paying union fees. That is larger than Democrats’ margin of defeat in several states that could have reversed their last three presidential losses.

Democrats don’t seem to think that’s a big deal.

And if you think ‘liberal’ papers like the Boston Globe support unions look at the first paragraph of an article about Charter Schools trying to form a union:

Throughout Massachusetts, independently run charter schools have operated without unionized teachers, an intentional move that operators say gives them the flexibility to hire or dismiss teachers of their choosing and allows them to make other changes quickly without negotiating.

But that will likely end at two Boston charter schools.

This is not an opinion piece, it’s straight news. Notice the assumption that it’s the leaders who know what’s necessary, teachers will just obstruct that given the chance.

And the same is true of ‘liberal’ universities such as Tufts or Harvard. The graduate students at Harvard have been trying to form a union for a few years now, but have been stymied by Harvard. And they just decided on their next President, Lawrence Bacow, who vehemently worked against unions while at Tufts–against grad students:

Following a 2000 decision by the National Labor Relations Board to recognize graduate students as statutory employees, in 2002, graduate students at Tufts unsuccessfully attempted to unionize in conjunction with the United Automobile Workers.

“I believe it would be a mistake for graduate students to unionize,” Bacow wrote at the time. “The relationship between faculty member to graduate student is not one of employer to employee.”

They did not succeed until after he left. And he also worked against a union for administrative, technical, and clerical employees.

The Boston Globe has written several stories about Bacow, such as this one but none of them think this is important.

Unions are in almost as much danger as going extinct as right whales.

It takes time to comply

The American with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 but it seems to take some people a long time to comply:

The ADA Education and Reform Act passed on a 225-to-192 vote, with 12 Democrats joining all but 19 Republicans to approve a bill that proponents say is aimed at curbing unscrupulous lawyers who seek profit by threatening businesses with litigation without actually seeking to improve access for the disabled.

The only reason lawyers could sue a business is if they’re not in compliance. So what happens under this bill if a business isn’t in compliance?

Under the bill, those wishing to sue businesses in federal court over an ADA public-accommodations violation must first deliver a written notice to that business detailing the illegal barrier to access and then give that business 60 days to come up with a plan to address the complaints and an additional 60 days to take action.

And, as the ACLU notes, they don’t have to fix the problem in that time,

just for the business to make “substantial progress” towards accessibility.

It could be years before the problem is actually fixed.

Teen Vogue has a good article on this:

Disabled sometimes people have to sue for the right to go to the movies, go grocery shopping, or have a fun night out with friends. Some people claim businesses are being plagued by bogus lawsuits filed by disabled people who are greedy for cash. This ignores a couple of things: Filing suit is expensive, and furthermore, ADA suits only entitle disabled people to legal fees and injunctive relief — addressing the accessibility failure in question. And the legal system already has measures in place to address frivolous lawsuits, up to and including bar action against attorneys who engage in bad faith litigation.

Should the law pass, people would be required to file a written complaint with a violator, who would have 60 days to acknowledge and another 120 to take action before the disabled person could file a suit. While this may be framed as trying to “talk it out” before going to court, disabled people often make accommodation requests repeatedly before filing suit. This isn’t about not making a good faith effort. Instead, it’s a mandatory waiting period for civil rights. “H.R. 620 is just one of the ways the civil rights of disabled Americans are being undermined,” Cortland says.

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