Michelle Obama defends our voting rights against Republican greed

The former first lady and voting rights activist said (last night) that the Senate should also pass the For the People Act “as soon as possible — because there is nothing more important to the health and future of our democracy than safeguarding the right to vote.”

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the proposal, which would help create a nationwide automatic voter registration system, expand mail-in voting, restore voting rights to people with a past felony and protect against state’s individual attempts to create restrictive new laws surrounding voter identification…

…”I’m so proud that we saw a record turnout in the 2020 election. I’m proud of all those who voted and volunteered to make sure that, even in the middle of a pandemic, Americans everywhere could exercise their unalienable right to vote.”

“But while we celebrate these historic gains, unfortunately too many leaders are working to reverse that progress and make it harder for people with every right to vote to cast a ballot,” she continued. “Our democracy remains under attack by the partisan and unpatriotic actions of those at the state level who are doing everything they can to curtail access to the ballot box.”

“Make no mistake — the idea that we cannot both hold secure elections and ensure that every eligible voter can make their voices heard is a false choice. It’s based on lies and it flies in the face of our history,” the former first lady said. “It is sad. It is infuriating. And it is a genuine threat to our future that must be taken seriously.”

RTFA. It’s white bread-Yahoo. But, most of it is useful, positive, supporting the ideals that forged the American Revolution, led it to victory against an established government owned and run by power-hungry royalists…not very different from today’s Republican Party.

Facebook says they’ll stop abusing your privacy [a little bit]

” Facebook Inc will no longer feed user phone numbers provided to it for two-factor authentication into its “people you may know” feature, as part of a wide-ranging overhaul of its privacy practices, the company told Reuters.

” Revelations last year that Facebook was using personal data obtained for two-factor authentication to serve advertisements enraged privacy advocates, who called the practice deceptive and said it eroded trust in an essential digital security tool…

” Facebook initiated the updates in connection with its $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which required it to boost safeguards on user data to resolve a government probe into its privacy practices.

The FTC order, which is still pending approval in court, said Facebook failed to disclose that the phone numbers provided for two-factor authentication also would be used for advertising, and specifically barred that approach to security tools.

If a thief has to change style, methods, to stay out of jail – while continuing to steal – of course, he will exert the effort.

ATT & Verizon rip-off DSL customers


Aurich Lawson/Thinkstock

❝ Tens of millions of people in the AT&T and Verizon service territories can only buy slow DSL Internet from the companies, yet they often have to pay the same price as fiber customers who get some of the fastest broadband speeds in the US.

That’s the conclusion of a new white paper written by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), a broadband advocacy group.

❝ “[I]n recent years, the nation’s two largest telco ISPs, AT&T and Verizon, have eliminated their cheaper rate tiers for low and mid-speed Internet access, except at the very slowest levels,” the NDIA wrote. “Each company now charges essentially identical monthly prices—$63-$65 a month after first-year discounts have ended—for home wireline broadband connections at almost any speed up to 100/100 Mbps fiber service.”

RTFA. Consider hollering at your elected representatives in Congress to support you and your peers fight for better treatment, affordable access to the Web. It’s overdue and criminally corrupt.

Bankrupt corporate coal creeps still want million$ in executive bonuses


Click to enlargeBillings Gazette

A government watchdog agency has filed an objection to Alpha Natural Resources’ proposal to pay executive bonuses of up to $11.9 million in 2016, arguing the bankrupt coal company cannot justify the additional pay at a time when it has recorded steep losses and sought to cut retiree benefits…

Alpha has argued the bonuses are necessary to retain key executives during its Chapter 11 proceedings. But in court filings submitted Friday, the trustee’s office challenged that argument. The government noted Alpha’s request to pay bonuses coincided with a $1.3 billion loss in 2015 and a plan to save $3 million annually by cutting retiree benefits.

“According to Alpha, these executives need these bonuses as an incentive to do the very jobs they were hired to do, that they are already highly compensated for with generous salaries, and which their fiduciary duties compel them to do,” the government wrote. “Such bonuses cannot be justified under the facts and circumstances of this case.”

Alpha declined comment…on the government’s filing.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in August with roughly $4.2 billion in debt. Mining operations have continued as Alpha attempts to restructure its balance sheet and emerge from Chapter 11…

Alpha last recorded a profit in 2011. It’s earnings have been hamstrung in the years since by oversupplied thermal and metallurgical coal markets, stiff competition from natural gas and a large debt burden created by its $7.1 billion purchase of Massey Energy Co. in 2011.

The company has continued to pay its executives handsomely. Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield received $7.8 million in total compensation in 2014, financial filings show. Former President Paul Vining took home $4.5 million, the chief financial officer made $1.9 million and Executive Vice President Brian Sullivan earned $1.6 million.

None of whom – obviously, given bankruptcy – deserve a bloody cent.

Nursing Homes have the power to seize control over patients’ savings

Lillian Palermo tried to prepare for the worst possibilities of aging. An insurance executive with a Ph.D. in psychology and a love of ballroom dancing, she arranged for her power of attorney and health care proxy to go to her husband, Dino, eight years her junior, if she became incapacitated. And in her 80s, she did…

But one day last summer, after he disputed nursing home bills that had suddenly doubled Mrs. Palermo’s copays, and complained about inexperienced employees who dropped his wife on the floor, Mr. Palermo was shocked to find a six-page legal document waiting on her bed.

It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.

Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step. Guardianship cases are difficult to gain access to and poorly tracked by New York State courts; cases are often closed from public view for confidentiality. But the Palermo case is no aberration. Interviews with veterans of the system and a review of guardianship court data conducted by researchers at Hunter College at the request of The New York Times show the practice has become routine, underscoring the growing power nursing homes wield over residents and families amid changes in the financing of long-term care.

RTFA. Pissed-off is a perfectly reasonable response.

As my wife and I plan for the possible disasters that can disorder the end of life – processes guided by the medical-industrial complex – legal agents perfectly willing to rollover at the least request from corporations committed to siphoning every last penny from your declining life fill me with the greatest anger.