Feds file suit against Roger Stone for unpaid taxes

The Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit on Friday against Roger Stone, the longtime GOP political operative and ally to former President Trump, accusing him of owing the government about $2 million in unpaid federal income taxes…

In a federal district court in Florida, the Justice Department alleged Friday that Stone and his wife Nydia used a limited liability corporation called Drake Ventures to “receive payments that are payable to Roger Stone personally, pay their personal expenses, shield their assets, and avoid reporting taxable income to the IRS…”

The Justice Department alleges that after Stone was criminally charged in January 2019, he and his wife used Drake Venture funds to purchase their home in Broward County, Fla., and registered it under another entity. According to the lawsuit, the couple was in “substantial debt” to the IRS at the time of purchase.

In a statement Friday night, Stone dismissed the Justice Department’s allegations as a political attack on him and his family.

If there’s anything Stone should be expert about it’s political attacks. Though, like Trump, Stone believes he is above the law.

Japan will dump radioactive wastewater into the Pacific


Eugene Hoshiko/AP

Japan’s government announced a decision to begin dumping more than a million tons of treated but still radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years.

The plant was severely damaged in a 2011 magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami that left about 20,000 people in northeast Japan dead or missing.

Despite Tokyo’s assurances that discharging wastewater will not pose a threat to people or the environment, the decision was roundly criticized by the local fishing community, environmental groups and Japan’s neighbors. Within hours of the announcement, protesters rallied outside government offices in Tokyo and Fukushima…

The damaged Fukushima plant will take at least decades to decommission. A swath of land around the plant remains uninhabitable, thousands of residents remain displaced, and the wastewater issue is another example of the 2011 disaster’s complex, long-term effects.

So, which are we to understand? That every aspect of this dump of radioactive material will work out well for everyone … in the end? Or this is just another group of bureaucrats anxious to return to business as usual. Screw the consequences!

MLB’s decision shows the power companies can wield over lawmakers – when they choose to

Over 100 companies, including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, reacted to Georgia’s new restrictive voting law by publicly denouncing it. While some executives are discussing doing more – such as halting donations or delaying investments, MLB is among the few organizations to go beyond words: It immediately said it was going to move the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver.

Both MLB’s decision to relocate the July 13 game and the many corporate press releases issued about the voting law drew a swift rebuke from Republicans, who vowed boycotts of baseball and the products these companies produce. The Senate minority leader even threatened retribution if companies didn’t stay out of politics – with an exception for campaign contributions…

MLB’s decision is estimated to cost Georgia as much as US$100 million in lost economic activity…Despite the apparent leverage companies yield, it’s not simple for most companies to just get up and leave.

The obvious reason for the agility of MLB is that they have no direct ownership stake in Georgia. Frankly, I doubt that very few Falcons fans who voted for Trumpo would also give up on supporting their team. Cripes, I’ll be a Red Sox fan till the day I die … and that’s a helluva admission covering the number of decades I had to put up with madness on and off the field.

But, RTFA. Lots of detail, analysis and good sense.

Tiny bits of plastic are a significant part of global pollution

Ocean plastic pollution is an urgent and global problem … Most of the attention paid to the issue has focused on daily-use goods such as food and consumer product packaging. However, Pew found that tiny fragments known as microplastics make up significant amounts of ocean plastic pollution that are often not accounted for in pollution estimates or possible solutions …

Although there is no standard definition of microplastics, they are commonly defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters—about the diameter of a standard pencil eraser. Despite their size, studies have shown that microplastics are major contributors to plastic pollution and are found widely in the environment—from high up Mount Everest to the deep sea—and even in humans and other animals …

Alarming studies regularly come out with new information about the impacts and growing scale of the microplastics problem, but there is still hope for fixing it. With concerted action that begins now, we can greatly reduce the plastic pollution flowing into our lands, rivers, and oceans over the next two decades.

RTFA, learn more about the problem and check out some of the latest ideas on how to counter this flavor of pollution. Too many of our politicians think the only side they need to defend is the one that brings jobs to their local voters … and campaign dollar$ into their bank account.

Amazon is buying up dead shopping malls…

Malls that buckled due to e-commerce or suffered during the pandemic are being given new life by the very entity that precipitated their decline — Amazon…Over the last several months, the retail giant has gone on a shopping spree of its own, buying up disused malls across the country and turning them into distribution centers.

Between 2016 and 2019, Amazon converted around 25 shopping malls … “The reality is that the cash flow at these lower-quality malls is declining rapidly,” said Vince Tibone, lead retail and industrial analyst at the real estate analytics firm Green Street. “You have to decide, ‘Do I want to do something myself to invest a lot of money to transform this dead retail into thriving retail or put up offices?’ Selling a dead mall as land is a more attractive option.”

Poisonally, I think the GOUSA is facing a tough economic forecast … for individual cities and towns that don’t figure out what to do with dead malls. Online shopping and the pandemic have pushed lots of diminishing-margin businesses to the wall. My wife and I still shop groceries, week by week, over a range including several stores. A couple of heavies like Walmart or Target, smaller stores like Sprouts or Trader Joe’s. That’s what fits the budget of a couple of retirees.

Autonomous logistics afloat


Autonomy success will include small-load, short-haul
Eric Bakker/Port of Rotterdam

Autonomous shipping – the keynote topic of every maritime industry event for quite some time – is finally taking baby steps towards reality. However, major regulatory challenges still lie ahead…

A key aspect of this will be how ports will need to adapt to welcome autonomous ships. In particular, the ways that unmanned vessels will berth and manoeuvre around ports – many of which might be densely trafficked – will be the subject of intense scrutiny…

Ports are already under pressure to adapt to a number of recent trends, including bigger ships, sustainability and climate change initiatives and smart concepts such as big data. But where do autonomous ships fit into the equation?

Andrew Higgs is a consultant solicitor at Setford Solicitors and one of the co-authors of the BPA report. He says that autonomous ships could help UK ports benefit from increased short sea shipping across inland and territorial waters around the British Isles, as well as continental European ports.

While initial considerations are oriented towards the EU and the UK…questions ranged, from regulation to logistics complexity are touched throughout the article. Not only a good read for folks currently involved in commerce and logistics…but, anyone with an interest in where robots and automation, artificial intelligence and its implementation are headed.

The first port in the world aiming for advanced autonomous operations is Caofeidan in northern China … by the end of the year. Including a joint US/China startup, TuSimple. Might be nice if our Cold Warriors in Congress and the White House paid attention to the world of commerce.

Boycott Jim Crow politics!


Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred

This summer’s Major League Baseball Draft and the All-Star Game won’t be held in Atlanta, MLB officials announced Friday.

The withdrawal of the two events from the city in July is in response to Georgia’s recently enacted voting restrictions, which critics, including President Biden, have denounced as “Jim Crow in the 21st century” because they say the legislation will disproportionately affect communities of color.

“I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB draft,” league commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”

“Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support,” Manfred said.

Republicans around this land keep on playing their Jim Crow games with each other. Meanwhile, the National Pastime is taking their bat and ball back to Freedomland.

EPA underestimates pollution from oil and natgas production — A LOT!

The Environmental Protection Agency is underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas production in its annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, according to new research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The research team found 90 percent higher emissions from oil production and 50 percent higher emissions for natural gas production than EPA estimated in its latest inventory…

The research team, led by Joannes Maasakkers, a former graduate student at SEAS, developed a method to trace and map total emissions from satellite data to their source on the ground…

…Researchers compared…simulations to satellite observations from 2010-2015. Using a transport model, they were able to trace the path of emissions from the atmosphere back to the ground and identify areas across the US where the observations and simulations didn’t match up.

“When we look at emissions from space, we can only see how total emissions from an area should be scaled up or down, but we don’t know the source responsible for those emissions,” said Maasakkers. “Because we spent so much time with the EPA figuring out where these different emissions occur, we could use our transport model to go back and figure out what sources are responsible for those under- or over-estimations in the national total.”

The biggest discrepancy was in emissions from oil and natural gas production.

You know what the next question should be. “What will federal regulators do with this understanding of much greater pollution coming from oil and natgas production?”

Eh?

Sports “supplement” is 80-year-old stimulant NEVER Approved for oral consumption

An experimental stimulant drug from the World War II era is showing up in weight loss and sports supplements sold today, according to a new study.

The stimulant, known as phenpromethamine, was last sold as a nasal inhaler called Vonedrine in the 1940s and 1950s, but it has since been withdrawn from the market and has never been approved for oral use, according to the study, published Tuesday (March 23) in the journal Clinical Toxicology. It’s also banned from competitive sports by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The new study appears to be the first to confirm the presence of phenpromethamine in supplements, the authors said.

In addition to phenpromethamine, the study identified eight other prohibited stimulants in sports and weight loss supplements, which were often found mixed together in various combinations to create “cocktails” of stimulant drugs that have never been studied in people…

These products were usually marketed as weight loss supplements or sport supplements. (A full list of these supplement brands can be found in the study.)

Maybe we can get the FDA back in the business of trying to protect consumers instead of allowing leftover drugs weaseled back into consumption by unprincipled producers.