At least in heaven there’s food

Bashar Assad is killing his own people. The Russian five-hour-daily cease-fire for humanitarian aid and civilian exit is just hot air.

(The advice given to the Honduran Contras attacking Nicaragua was, go for soft targets. Markets, schools, and hospitals. This ‘strategy’ is a gift of Richard Nixon and Oliver North. It is now standard practice.)

The Syrian regime is bombing hospitals, homes, whatever in Eastern Ghouta.

You can google the title phrase of this post. Or you can click here and scroll down to the ‘disturbing’ video.

Not Fine

Companies that make mistakes merely pay fines.

Here you will find that an ejection seat failure in a UK Red Arrow Air Force plane merely resulted in a fine (plus a death.) This cost over a million pounds.

He said: “Martin-Baker were aware of the defect more than 20 years ago, and it took Sean’s death for the issue to come to light.

“We can only hope they have learned a lesson and that no-one else goes through this hell because of faulty equipment.”

Here you will find that (among many other drug companies) GlaxoSmithKline paid a fine for promoting drugs for unapproved uses.

No individuals have been charged in any of the cases. Even so, the Justice Department contends the prosecutions are well worth the effort — reaping more than $15 in recoveries for every $1 it spends, by one estimate.

But critics argue that even large fines are not enough to deter drug companies from unlawful behavior. Only when prosecutors single out individual executives for punishment, they say, will practices begin to change.

Not merely to urinate on British companies, here‘s your US giant Pfizer:

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) on Tuesday said it has reached a $486 million settlement of litigation accusing it of causing big losses for shareholders by concealing safety risks associated with its Celebrex and Bextra pain-relieving drugs.

Remember the exploding airbags? Here you will find out what happened to Takata.

 Last year, Takata agreed to plead guilty and pay a $1bn criminal penalty in the US for fraud. Numerous carmakers have reached their own settlements over claims linked to the Takata recall.

Not to forget Volkswagen, here you will find out about the diesel emissions scandal.

As of December 21, 2016, Volkswagen reached a second settlement with the roughly 78,000 owners and lessees of 3.0-liter diesel models. In late January 2017, Volkswagen announced a $1.2 billion program that differs substantially from the $10 billion program for 2.0-liter diesel models. Judge Breyer approved the final settlement amount on May 11, 2017. Currently, only owners of 2009–2012 Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg models with the Generation 1 engine are eligible for buybacks between $24,755 and $57,157. This is because Volkswagen cannot repair them to be emissions compliant. Generation 1 lessees of 2012 vehicles can receive between $5001 and $6615 for terminating their leases early. Generation 1 owners who do not sell their cars back to Volkswagen can receive $7755 to $13,880. For complete details, see the court’s handy executive summary.

Let me summarize.

There was public citizen damage in each case above:

  • a pilot died.
  • drugs were improperly marketed.
  • safety risks were concealed – and only stockholders seemed to care.
  • dangerous airbags were put in front of citizens as safety devices.
  • polluting cars were sold for years.

Nobody went to jail. This not fine. It is a disgrace.

Silly answers

I am going to ask you to imagine each of the following words as one might use them in a sentence. Then I’ll give you my silly answers. Ready?

  1. Infantile
  2. Toy Story
  3. Promiscuous
  4. Blacklisted

Infantile. If you call me an infant, I’ll behave like one.

Toy Story. Seeing the mountain of Christmas toys, Tory got in front for a photo-op.

Promiscuous. If you are our escort, pro miss, queue us.

Blacklisted. Here are a number of notable things which Conrad Black listed as achievements:

  • Serving jail time in the USA.
  • Dumping his Canadian citizenship to become a British peer.
  • Being stripped of his Order of Canada
  • Claiming Trump the most successful US POTUS since Regan
  • Raiding the Dominion Stores pension and getting to keep half of it.

For those of you with short memories, here’s a quote from the above hotlink:

Black stripped a $56 million surplus from the Dominion Stores employees’ pension fund but lost a court challenge and gave roughly half of it back.

Apartheid, and Israel

Israel has often been accused of apartheid in its dealings with the Palestinians. However, they usually play the Holocaust card and then enlist support from the United States of America.

Trump’s intent to move the US embassy to Palestine has been greeted by Netanyahu as a harbinger of peace. This from the creator of hundreds of settlements, in East Palestine.

Emboldened by America’s attacks on Iran, support for anti-Palestinian moves, and aggressive to take advantage, Israel has decided to

drive African migrants out of Israel. You can read details here.

Apartheid? No no. Not in Israel.

What’s in a Name: part II

Coleman’s mustard bears the label “Coleman’s of Norwich.”

Here you will find out that, that label will now be false, but will continue to be used.

I’ll bet my favourite Worcestershire Sauce isn’t made in Worcestershire. It isn’t, the company (Lea and Perrins) makes it in the USA in a thicker version. That’s the version I am familiar with. But they don’t lie about it, or do they?

Back to Coleman’s. Jobs in a loyal village will be lost. Profit will be chased elsewhere. But the ‘of Norwich’ will remain. I guess truth in advertising isn’t enforced in the UK either.

P < .05 means what??

I’ll add some stuff from Nature on this later, maybe.

Probability and experiments are often misunderstood.

Here is a fun example we should all read, and laugh at, and then laugh at ourselves.

Trying 20 types of candies, one in 20 comes up with a positive result. For that one, P<.05.

Since it is one of twenty, that shouldn’t be seen as ‘proof’ but the P value will be seen as such.

The Nature article insists that the pre-experiment known possibilities, including for false positives, means that many of our ‘accepted’ results are, er, well, not that acceptable.

What’s in a Name?

I will give you the names of four organizations. Then I’ll make snarky comments about them.

  • Canada Standards Association
  • Britain First
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Special Investigations Unit

CSA is a required approval for appliances in Canada. It was started in a garage, but because of its name, became the standard.

Britain First is a radical group. Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

Britain First campaigns primarily against multiculturalism and what it sees as the Islamisation of the United Kingdom, and advocates the preservation of traditional British culture. It attracted attention by taking direct action such as its “Christian patrols” and “invasions” of British mosques. It has been noted for its online activism.

They are, apparently, not nice people. However the name makes them sound useful, even patriotic.

Black Lives Matter gained fame by halting the Gay Pride parade in Toronto, Canada. They succeeded in getting the parade to agree NOT to allow police officers to participate in the parade in uniform. It appears that black lives matter a lot more than gay ones. That the police had been invited to participate in this parade meant nothing to BLM.

Special Investigations Unit is the branch of the municipal police tha investigates incidents in which a police officer shoots somebody. Or is suspected of planting evidence. I’m sure you get the picture. They are supposed to be the watchdogs protecting the public from overzealous police actions. Unfortunately, they are mostly ex police officers. Their investigations often are ‘special.’

What’s my point, you ask? In each of the above cases you might be subtly or seriously misled as to the group’s real purpose because of its official (often self-selected) name.

We just witnessed a major piece of legislation in the USA which is touted as Tax Reform. One senator said it really is ‘government for sale.’ It includes these provisions (among others):

  • tax cuts for the rich
  • territorial view of corporation taxes, allowing outside earnings to stay outside of US tax
  • reduction in business taxes overall
  • reduction on the home mortgage interest tax break, with a ceiling on mortgage size
  • permission of oil extraction in previously protected wildlife areas
  • removing of fines for not having health insurance
  • increase in the estate tax loophole

and there is more. This is ‘tax reform.’ Trump can call it that, but it’s a big gift to the rich and rich corporations, and an omnibus bill with other pieces stuffed in.


Trump Peace

Donald Trump, POTUS, has a strange way of settling conflicts.

To defuse the tension with North Korea, he threatens fire and brimstone. He insults ‘little rocket man.’ He has been accused of driving DPRK to nuclear ICBMs.

I think this is correct.

To make Israel happy, the Potus has said the US Embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Palestine. Apparently it has been law in the USA to move the embassy, and every six months the POTUS keeps it from going ahead because either the building or the security is not there. This is the first time any POTUS has decided to let the move happen.

interestingly, Mr. Netanyahu lauded this latest development as a major step forward to peace.This is the same Netanyahu who keeps building illegal settlements, including in East Palestine.

Analysts have said that this is meant to justify, after the anticipated demonstrations incited into riots, of further clamp down on Palestinians. Maybe their tax revenue, water supply, and electricity will be reduced as punishment. Or maybe we’ll see another devastating bombing raid on civilians in Palestine. In short, the more powerful force is taunting the weaker one hoping to enforce further weakening, by checkpoints, curfews, outages.

You may remember that the international deal with Iran over nuclear enrichment was enacted in the USA with a clause that the POTUS had to certify (every six months) that the conditions were being met. The relevant inspectors said they were. The POTUS refused to certify, on some logic that ‘the spirit’ wasn’t being kept when the letter of the agreement obviously is.

Iran may decide to restart, clandestinely, its nuclear program. They already have a decent missile program.

One analyst of US policy with regard to agreements was to compare them to a real estate deal. If it works out for U, OK. If it doesn’t, walk away. Bankruptcy if necessary. Put it into a separate corporation ahead of time. Unfortunately one can only bankrupt the US’s credibility / integrity once or at most twice. Then everyone who can think knows not to deal with such an unreliable partner.

So, thanks to the Trump Peace effort, we can expect at least some of these dire predictions to come true:

  • North Korea gets nuclear-tipped ICBMs and proves that they work.
  • Palestine revolts, aided by all Arab nations (possibly excepting Saudi Arabia, which has a not-so-secret relationship with Israel.)
  • Iran makes a decision.

To quote Albert Einstein: I don’t know what weapons World War Three will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

So, now for the dumb questions:

Is all this a distraction from growing inequality, bigotry, divisiveness at home? Or just from so many inappropriately behaving powerful men being outed?

Has peace been Trumped?

North Korea: some truth, for once

You may be wondering what’s going on between North Korea and the rest of the world, particularly the USA.

Here you can read a CRS report on this. I won’t give any quotes. If you’re interested in this topic, you can read it for yourself. (CRS = Congressional Research Service.)

In this report is a comment that the USA may have (deliberately?) messed up one agreement by attacking a bank that North Korea used. Since almost all banks in Macau had DPRK accounts in them, clearly the USA went after a big one to stampede all the others. You can find this here.

There is no solution. North Korea will continue to develop nuclear warheads and ICBM delivery vehicles. In an earlier round of food sanctions it is estimated that 5-10% of the population died of malnutrition. (That’s a euphemism for starvation.) Do you think the USA has more leverage than starvation?

This is posted under ‘Observation’ because there is no ‘activist’ content here, eh?

Guilty as Discharged: how Trump neutralizes Fact

Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.

This could be  (wink, wink; nudge, nudge) part of a plea deal.

This is a very large threat to the POTUS. If you’re interested in bafflegab, here is some from the White House: (Emphasis mine, as always)

Donald Trump has responded to a guilty plea by his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying Mr Flynn’s actions as a member of his transition team “were lawful”.

So he pled guilty just for fun.

The deal, for a lesser charge than he might have faced, prompted speculation that he has incriminating evidence.

Imagine my surprise.

Several US news organisations report the very senior official now under the spotlight is Jared Kushner – Mr Trump’s adviser and son-in-law.

So sorry. We were all hoping it was the Donald.

What is usually a Dumb Question here is instead an Activism request:

Can you do anything about this regime? To make it better, more honest, safer, egalitarian? Will you find a way to do something? Please?