Just 1 of the 143 criminals given clemency by Trump, yesterday

He stole trade secrets from Google. Levandowski’s pardon supported by billionaire Peter Thiel, who donated to Trump’s 2016 campaign. Pardoned by Trump.

Anthony Levandowski, 40, had been sentenced in August 2020 to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to inappropriately downloading trade secrets from Google’s self-driving car operation Waymo, where he was an engineer.

The single guilty count was the result of a plea bargain; the engineer was originally charged with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets. And the sentencing judge, William Alsup, described Levandowski’s theft as “the biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen” and refused the engineer’s request for home confinement, saying, it would give “a green light to every future brilliant engineer to steal trade secrets. Prison time is the answer to that.”

Levandowski had not yet begun his prison sentence due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A hearing on the timing of his prison sentence had been scheduled for 9 February.

And, now, he walks out the door. Courtesy of Obergruppenführer Trump.

Those who lie(d) for Trump should be held accountable

Don’t let the chronic liars cash in on their dishonesty. Press secretaries like Joe Lockhart, Ari Fleischer and Jay Carney, who left the White House with their reputations in various stages of intact, made millions taking their skills — and credibility — to corporate America. Trump’s liars don’t merit that same golden parachute. Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.

I second that emotion!

Tech & the American Crisis

by Om Malik

Actions taken by technology platforms in the wake of Capitol Hill’s events have generated intense debate, especially from within the tech community. But many of the loudest voices have shown little understanding of the nuance of the situation or the historical context of actions taken by various platforms…

…Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation helpfully explains that Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and others have previously taken similar actions — they just didn’t involve an outgoing U.S. president…

My own opinion is that this collision of politics, society, and technology has been a long time coming…My argument has been that these social platforms are essentially nation-states and require a higher level of social and civic etiquette established and enforced through official policies. When evaluating the performance of Twitter, Facebook, and others on this particular score, the phrase I have often used is “dereliction of duty.”…Today’s companies are responsible and accountable for recognizing the challenges and impact of scale — not just the pursuit of profit…

…Peter Singer…rightly points out that the recent headline-generating steps taken to foster a safer environment — both online and off — are long overdue. “They are not just tech creators or even the equivalent of news-media editors. After years of dodging it, they get that they are running information warzones,” Singer writes. They being social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Singer’s framing of the social platform as a battlefield is particularly important for thinking about the future. In his assessment of the seriousness of the events of last week for The New York Times, Yale professor Timothy Snyder wrote, “Post-truth is pre-fascism.” Whether we participate on the platforms or not, we will all suffer the ultimate cost of lies.

To read the complete article undamaged by my blogulous editing, click the link at Om’s name up top.

One hand washes the other


21st Century Wire

Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel in the United States over 30 years ago, landed in Israel early on Wednesday.

…The jet that delivered the Pollards belonged to a casino owned by Sheldon Adelson, the Republican billionaire who is a longtime benefactor of Mr. Netanyahu’s…Mr. Adelson, one of the world’s richest men and a key supporter of President Trump’s, had long lobbied for Mr. Pollard’s release.

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“The United States sold the ambassador’s residence in Israel for more than $67 million in July…The Israeli business newspaper Globes has identified the buyer as the U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a strong supporter of both President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The sale helped to cement Trump’s controversial decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem in 2018 and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. By selling the residence, it would make it harder for future presidents to reverse the decision to move the embassy.

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Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam gave another $35 million to three super-PACs supporting Donald Trump and the GOP during the second half of October…That brought their total spending on the 2020 election to more than $215 million.”

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SAME AS IT EVER WAS, Same as it ever was, same as it ever was…

Want to blow up a Trump casino?


Mark Makela/Getty

Atlantic City is giving people the chance to bid on imploding President Trump’s former casino in February. The Trump Plaza casino has been empty and deteriorating for the last six years.

Mr. Trump opened the casino in 1984, but it was closed in 2014 and fell into a state of disrepair. Bodnar’s Auction, the auction house collecting bids for the planned implosion, labeled the experience to push the button and demolish the building as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

All of proceeds from the auction will go to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City. The city’s mayor hopes it can raise more than $1 million with the stunt…”I think it’s extremely important that we do something worthwhile,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. said.

Wonder how much higher the bids would go if we could get Trump to reprise the Cagney role at the end of White Heat?

Will Climate Change affect global trade? You betcha!

Some new drone footage shot as the ONE Apus was arriving in Japan last week gives us the first aerial view of the extent of damage on the deck of the ship after its historic cargo loss in the Pacific Ocean…

The owners and managers of the containership estimate that 1,816 containers were lost overboard when the ONE Apus encountered severe weather as it sailed towards Long Beach, California on November 30.

The number of containers damaged but remaining on deck is yet to be determined, but these images (and what we’ve seen already) show that the number is likely to be significant.

Authors of the article estimate 2,250 containers were swept away.

After the cold fall winds swirling around Hurricane Sandy pushed an enormous storm surge toward the New York and New Jersey coastlines several years ago, the ensuing damage left an indelible imprint on the public imagination. Restaurants with ocean views were battered by wild waves, homes were rent asunder, and historic lighthouses were pummeled into piles of rubble. New York City was paralyzed for days, and some 40,000 people were left homeless.

…Scant attention was paid to the goods containers strewn like toys around the marine terminals or to the gantry cranes left inoperable by saltwater damage. For a week, container ships laden with cargo floated aimlessly in the calmed harbor while responders scrambled to repair the damage.

As concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere at a record-breaking pace, changes to the climate system—not least sea level rise and increasingly ferocious extreme weather—will pose a growing threat to international trade. Costal transport infrastructure, especially ports, is highly vulnerable. But this is a two-way relationship. International trade plays a well-established role in making climate change worse by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, but what Sandy portends is that climate change will also imperil the smooth flow of international trade.

And this is just the beginning.

Facebook attacks Apple’s tougher privacy standards


This is what pisses off FACEBOOK honcho, Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook has…attacked Apple in a series of full-page newspaper ads, asserting that iOS 14’s privacy changes regarding data gathering and targeted advertising are bad for small businesses (via Bloomberg).

The ads are running in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, feature the headline “We’re standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”

I feel like I’m standing up to my ankles in cowshit when I read this press release from Zuckerberg.

Earlier this year, Apple introduced a number of privacy changes that curb the ability of companies like Facebook to gather data on users and target adverts. In ‌‌iOS 14‌‌, Apple has made the “Identifier for Advertisers,” used by Facebook and its advertising partners for ad targeting, an opt-in feature, providing more transparency for users who would prefer not to be tracked in apps and on websites. The update simply asks users if they want to agree to ad tracking or prevent cross-app and cross-site tracking to provide targeted ads.

Personally, I love Apple’s changes. What I’d like to see – and Zuckerberg fears – is more software and site developers take the same stand.

JPM slaps unjust charges on customers. Feds say, “bad boy!”


Johannes Eisele/AFP

Federal bank examiners considered levying fines and sanctions when JPMorgan Chase informed them last year that faulty overdraft charges caused by a software glitch had impacted roughly 170,000 customers…

Rather than openly penalizing Chase, the nation’s largest bank, OCC officials decided to issue a quiet reprimand — a supervisory letter — that would go into the bank’s file and stay out of public view, according to the people and regulatory paperwork…

Since 2017, when President Donald Trump took office, the OCC has found at least six banks wrongly charged overdrafts and related fees, but in each case, the agency quietly rebuked the bank rather than pushing for fines and public penalties, the investigation by ProPublica and The Capitol Forum shows.

RTFA for details on each bank. The OCC was asked if they wished to defend their practices. And said they don’t comment publicly on confidential decisions.

Shoplifting Increasing During the Pandemic – Folks Mostly Taking Food


Michael Loccisano/Getty

Retailers, security experts, and police departments across the country say that shoplifting has been up significantly since the coronavirus pandemic began last spring. But experts say that the unusual thing about this upsurge in shoplifting is the items that are being taken—more kitchen staples like bread and pasta, as well as things like baby formula and diapers. In other words, in the midst of a pandemic and a recession, Americans have taken to stealing basic necessities that they can no longer afford in an attempt to stave off hunger, while also trying to pay rent and keep a steady job…

“We’re seeing an increase in low-impact crimes,” said Jeff Zisner, chief executive of workplace security firm Aegis. “It’s not a whole lot of people going in, grabbing TVs and running out the front door. It’s a very different kind of crime — it’s people stealing consumables and items associated with children and babies.”

What do you do? What can you do when the folks you elected, “our” government, think they only owe allegiance to corporate America. When the people who employ you can’t use you…you’re history. Whatever the circumstances. They don’t feel responsible to you. The worst of the political hacks in state and federal government feel the same.

Brief note for coffee lovers

Starbucks is planning to open 600 new stores in China next year, thus operating 6,000 stores across 230 cities by the end of 2022.
Source: Pandaily newsletter

So, if you’re an American traveling in China, pretty good odds you’ll be able to hook up with your favorite addiction.

🙂