Grants to US climate scientists to move to France and “Make Our Planet Great Again”

❝ French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to award a number of US based climate scientists, multi-year, all-expenses-paid grants to relocate to France.

The “Make Our Planet Great Again” grants are part of Mr Macron’s efforts to counter US President Donald Trump on the climate change front.

❝ Mr Macron is unveiling the first winners at a start-up incubator in Paris called Station F, where Microsoft and smaller tech companies are announcing projects to finance activities aimed at reducing emissions.

They are aimed at giving new impetus to the Paris accord and finding new funding to help governments and businesses meet its goals.

More than 50 world leaders were in Paris for the One Planet Summit, co-hosted by the United Nations and the World Bank. Mr Trump was not invited.

Idiots like Trump and the fools who vote for his policies never recognize that the world moves on regardless of counter productive blather and ignorant policies set in motion by dying cultures.

Barry Ritholtz says, “Don’t let the trolls get you down!”

❝ I began sharing my work online two decades ago as one of the early financial bloggers. I started on Yahoo Geocities in the 1990s, Typepad in 2003, and finally on WordPress at my own domain in 2008. That is where the Big Picture still resides…

Alas, a classic case of the tragedy of the commons struck, rendering comments mostly worthless as they were overrun with spam advertising and trolls. Managing them was a giant time suck, with no effective technology solution. It was with some reluctance that I finally decided to close down my blog comments. For the same reasons, you will not find a comment section below my Bloomberg View columns.

❝ Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive officer, seems to be making some progress in the company’s response as it begins cleaning up its act and banning some of the most egregious offenders. It has also given users more tools to help them avoid the worst of the trolls. This is good news for those of us in the financial community, as Twitter is a tremendous resource.

Reading discussions between a few law professors about their Twitter usage (see this and this) reminded me of this. Because I find Twitter to be enormously helpful, I want you to also take advantage of its resources. Here are a few ideas that can help you, too…

RTFA. We can always use more suggestions about dealing with the ego-smitten or simply corrupt folk who take up otherwise useful space online.

Here’s a shock – Doctors paid for cardiac tests order more of them

Doctors who earn money for cardiac stress testing are much more likely to prescribe the tests than those who don’t, a new study has found.

Researchers at Duke University studied data on 17,847 patients nationwide who had cardiac bypass surgery or coronary angioplasty, checking to see how often doctors prescribed nuclear stress tests and echocardiograms later than 90 days after discharge…

Among doctors who billed for administering and interpreting a stress test, 12.6 percent prescribed the test, compared with 5 percent of those who were not paid for testing. Results for echocardiograms were similar: 2.8 percent of patients were tested by doctors who billed for both test and interpretation, and 0.4 percent by those who were paid for neither.

After controlling for the patient’s age and disease characteristics, the doctor’s specialty and other factors, researchers found that a patient of a doctor earning money from testing was more than twice as likely to be tested as a patient of a doctor without financial interest in the tests.

“If you’re having symptoms or a change in health status, testing is appropriate,” said Dr. Bimal R. Shah, the lead author of the analysis and a fellow in cardiology at Duke. “But in situations where there aren’t any clinical indications for tests, these reimbursement structures seem to be associated with increased testing use.”

Do you think so? Cripes.

I had one doctor who sent me for a battery of tests at an eye clinic that cost Medicare a bundle – when the headaches I was experiencing actually meant that New Mexico’s hardy and aggressive range of pollen had finally caught up with me and I had developed hayfever.

Yes, I found that he got a spif for the referral – and, no, I never went to him, again.

Supercommittee focuses lobbyists’ clients against one another


It will be a profitable Xmas season

The bipartisan congressional supercommittee charged with finding $1.5 trillion in budget savings is leaving Washington lobbying firms in a quandary, seeing their clients pitted against one another in a competition for government cash.

Major defense contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin have a dozen or more lobbying firms working for them, many of whom also represent the health-care industry, another likely target of budget cuts. While firms often deal with conflicts of interest, the supercommittee represents an unusual challenge, said Clyde Wilcox, a government professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

“This actually is going to be much more like a zero sum game,” Wilcox said. “If someone wins, someone loses…”

If all else fails, “I suspect that they’ll be rational businesspersons and make a decision based on their long-term financial interest,” Jeffrey Berry said. “They have a bottom line, just like their clients.”

You do recall, I hope, that principles, ethics, the needs of the people are irrelevant?

The 12-member panel, whose work has taken on greater urgency since Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating in August, will be the central focus of political and lobbying activity for the next few months…

It’s akin to working with congressional leadership, which we — as most firms — do all the time,” Stewart Verdery [whose clients include clients Boeing, General Dynamics, Eli Lilly & Co. and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America] said…

The politicians will have their hands out – and will find them filled.

Civil Rights photographer unmasked as informer

That photo of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. riding one of the first desegregated buses in Montgomery, Ala.? He took it. The well-known image of black sanitation workers carrying “I Am a Man” signs in Memphis? His. He was the only photojournalist to document the entire trial in the murder of Emmett Till, and he was there in Room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel, Dr. King’s room, on the night he was assassinated.

But now an unsettling asterisk must be added to the legacy of Ernest C. Withers, one of the most celebrated photographers of the civil rights era: He was a paid F.B.I. informer.

On Sunday, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis published the results of a two-year investigation that showed Mr. Withers, who died in 2007 at age 85, had collaborated closely with two F.B.I. agents in the 1960s to keep tabs on the civil rights movement. It was an astonishing revelation about a former police officer nicknamed the Original Civil Rights Photographer, whose previous claim to fame had been the trust he engendered among high-ranking civil rights leaders, including Dr. King.

“It is an amazing betrayal,” said Athan Theoharis, a historian at Marquette University who has written books about the F.B.I. “It really speaks to the degree that the F.B.I. was able to engage individuals within the civil rights movement. This man was so well trusted.”

From at least 1968 to 1970, Mr. Withers, who was black, provided photographs, biographical information and scheduling details to two F.B.I. agents in the bureau’s Memphis domestic surveillance program, Howell Lowe and William H. Lawrence, according to numerous reports summarizing their meetings. The reports were obtained by the newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act and posted on its Web site.

A clerical error appears to have allowed for Mr. Withers’s identity to be divulged: In most cases in the reports, references to Mr. Withers and his informer number, ME 338-R, have been blacked out. But in several locations, the F.B.I. appears to have forgotten to hide them. The F.B.I. said Monday that it was not clear what had caused the lapse in privacy and was looking into the incident.

I’m never surprised to learn about a trusted figure in American insurgent politics who may have been an agent, informer, even an agent provocateur. All part of S.O.P. for American governments, federal, state and local. Even small town Red Squads have been around for decades to keep an eye on everyone from trade union organizers to peace activists.

Check back on some of your favorite ivory tower intellectuals – whether it be Somerset Maugham or Arthur Schlesinger the Little. They finked for the Man.

Like Andy Young said in the article, “We knew that everything we did was bugged.”

I hope none of you are gullible enough to think it ever stopped.

New York Times starts Press Engine service for content distribution to iPads and iPhones – for other newspapers

New York Times Co., owner of the namesake newspaper, started Press Engine, a business designed to help other publishers deliver content to digital platforms such as Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices.

Times Co. will collect license fees and maintenance fees from publishers and media organizations that use the technology and design solutions for digital distribution. Individual publishers will continue to control and own their advertising and subscriptions, the New York-based company.

The Telegraph Media Group, publisher of the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, and A.H. Belo Corp., the Dallas-based owner of the Dallas Morning News, will be among Press Engine’s customers when the product is introduced in the fourth quarter, Times Co. said.

This is part of the multi-faceted move into new technology” at Times Co., said Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Co. in New York. “They’ve got the content, they’ve got the brainpower. We’ll see if people will pay for this stuff.”

Publishers are seeking ways to replace a drop in newspaper print advertising sales, which fell 11 percent in the U.S. in the first quarter, according to Newspaper Association of America data.

The New York Times newspaper is preparing to unveil in January a new online subscription model, which will make much of its Web content available only to visitors who pay fees for access. The company is also planning to sell an enhanced application for Apple’s iPad, which will be offered in addition to the free app currently available on the device.

The free app for the iPad rocks. Informative and useful. I admit I could be tempted to pop for a subscription – well, a little tempted.

They might be second in line after GigaOm Pro which I also haven’t subscribed to. Yet.

Serial killer was on FBI payroll as a snitch

Serving time for lesser crimes, Scott Kimball is leading investigators to bodies.

Partly mummified bones thought to be those of his uncle, Terry Kimball, were discovered Monday in a remote Rocky Mountain pass near Vail, Colorado. DNA tests are pending to confirm the victim’s identity, and the cause of death is pending a forensic examination.

Terry Kimball is one of several suspected homicide victims associated with Scott Kimball since his jailing in 2008. He is serving a 48-year sentence in state prison in Fairplay, Colorado, on theft and habitual criminal convictions.

Kimball will also serve a 70-month federal sentence on firearms charges after the state sentence. The firearms charges led to Kimball’s 18th conviction.

Sources with knowledge of the cases said Kimball’s December 2008 plea to theft and habitual criminal charges, and the 48-year sentence, was part of a deal that included revealing the locations of the bodies. Authorities wanted to give victims’ families resolution. Without his cooperation, authorities doubt they have enough evidence to convict him…

Kimball drew the FBI’s attention in 2002 while jailed for writing bad checks. Kimball offered authorities information about his cellmate, Steven Ennis, who was suspected in a drug ring, according to the 2007 affidavit. The FBI arranged Kimball’s release and began paying him as an informant.

Kimball was supposed to report back to the FBI on Jennifer Marcum, Ennis’ former girlfriend, when she disappeared.

The FBI would not reveal how long or how much Kimball was paid. He was arrested again in March 2006 near Palm Springs, California, after a police chase and standoff.

Just the kind of creep you want to feed you information about his peers. You know, the ones who aren’t killing their friends, relatives and neighbors.

Where’s Mandy Patinkin when you need him?

Gun control organizations infiltrated by paid NRA spy

Campaigners for tougher controls on guns in the US are reeling from the allegation that a prominent member of the movement for more than a decade was a spy working for the powerful pro-gun lobby the National Rifle Association.

Mary Lou McFate sat on the board of two groups campaigning for greater controls, and tried to become a director of the national umbrella group of the movement, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She was also linked with the circle of an international campaign on small arms trade based in London.

To the outrage of campaigners who worked with her, she has been outed by Mother Jones, the political magazine, as a paid plant for the NRA. An investigation by the magazine based on court documents suggests that she made contact with the NRA as early as 1999 and that the connection was sustained to this day.

Her alleged intelligence work for the gun lobby was partly organised through a defunct detective agency in Maryland. Beckett Brown International received $80,000 from the NRA in 1999 and 2000 for various services, court depositions show.

Illegal? Maybe. Fraudulent? Guaranteed. Sleazy? Of course…